Should White House officials have to fly coach? | The Tylt
Should White House officials have to fly coach?
Head of the EPA Scott Pruitt recently admitted he only flies first class because flying coach was a security threat.
“We live in a very toxic environment politically, particularly around issues of the environment... We’ve reached the point where there’s not much civility in the marketplace and it’s created, you know, it’s created some issues and the (security) detail, the level of protection is determined by the level of threat.”
According to Politico, one of the "security threats" Pruitt mentioned was a passenger shouting "You're fucking up the environment!" at an Atlanta airport.
While President Trump repeatedly promised to "drain the swamp," fallout surrounding his administration officials' taxpayer-funded travel led to investigations into at least five of his cabinet secretaries and the resignation of Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price.
In The New York Times, Katie Roger and Karen Yourish outline just how much money could be saved if White House officials opted to fly commercial rather than private.
The travel of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin came under the scrutiny of the inspector general in August [...] As a practice, Timothy F. Geithner, President Obama’s first Treasury secretary, flew commercially, always in coach, when traveling domestically.
Mr. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker and a onetime Hollywood film financier, appears to break tradition. For example, it cost taxpayers $172,283 for Mr. Mnuchin to fly to Florida, Kentucky, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia on a military plane. It could have cost $3,402 — about 50 times less — if he had flown commercial.
The cost of international trips is even worse―with Mnuchin's private travel costing taxpayers nearly 33 times more than if he had flown commercial.
But others have pointed out that the outrage over Trump administration officials using private jets didn't exist back when Obama was president. Alex Pappas argues on Fox News that Obama officials weren't criticized for their taxpayer-funded private plane travel because of obvious security reasons, and the same standard should be applied to Trump officials.
Top figures during President Barack Obama’s tenure who used non-commercial planes for travel included then-attorney generals Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, then-FBI director Robert Mueller, and then-CIA director and defense secretary Leon Panetta. Because of their jobs, these officials were required to take government planes for security and communications purposes.
Furthermore, Pappas claims Obama actually authorized more taxpayer-funded flights than Trump did at this point in his presidency.
According to statistics provided by a senior administration official, the Trump White House has authorized fewer trips on military planes for senior officials than the Obama administration did during the first eight months in office.
From Jan. 20 to Sept. 19, the Trump administration authorized 77 military flights, while the Obama administration allowed 94 flights during the same time period, according to the stats.