DAYTON, Ohio -- Boeing VC-137C SAM 26000 its final flight on May 20, 1998, at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
DAYTON, Ohio -- Boeing VC-137C SAM 26000 its final flight on May 20, 1998, at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Trump Administration Officials Accused Of Using Taxpayer Money For Private Air Travel

by Sanders Jett-Folk

Over the past month and a half, Trump administration officials have reportedly been using taxpayer money to fund airplane travel that is not necessarily for work purposes.

It started when Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin flew to Fort Knox with his wife to view the total eclipse on August 21st. This resulted in a review of the case from the Treasury inspector general, which is still ongoing. He then requested to use a government plane to take his wife on a European honeymoon. They ended up not using a government plane for that trip. [1]

Then, Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price was caught using over $1 million in taxpayer money to fund several private flights, including to a private resort in Georgia that he owns land on. He tried to soothe over critics by promising to pay for his own plane tickets on such flights, but there were still several hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenditures that needed to be paid off for the flights. As a result, Tom Price resigned his position. In a public letter released by the White House, Price said “I have spent 40 years both as a doctor and public servant putting people first. I regret that the recent events have created a distraction from these important objectives. Success on these issues is more important than any one person. In order for you to move forward without further disruption, I am officially tendering my resignation.” [2]

Just this past Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence took a plane to an NFL game between the Colts and the 49ers in Indianapolis. During the national anthem, several players on both teams kneeled as a result of ongoing protests during NFL games that had been occurring over the past few weeks. Pence and his wife Karen left the game abruptly in protest of the kneeling players. Pence later tweeted “I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.” Journalists, political observers, NFL players, and Democratic politicians slammed the ordeal as a PR stunt. [3]

English teacher Diana Sung commented “I think it is difficult for citizens to understand what is necessary for public servants to do their jobs (I’ve seen ridiculous criticisms regarding this issue levelled at all administrations for much too long), but I also think there are systemic problems with government spending that have existed long before Trump’s administration and continue to be an issue at present.  I do have serious concerns about many of the folks under investigation caring deeply about their role as a public servant; I think they view their job as a business appointment, which is not an apt analogy because the goal of government is not to make money through efficiency.”

Sung continued, “Fund efficiency is important for government because it impacts quality and delivery of services. You cannot sweepingly employ business practice to the public sector without understanding the conflicting operational values of each.  As an educator, I have seen much bad policy and negligent fiscal practice at the hands of people attempting to force business-think on public services.  We all need to think a bit more before jumping on any kind of simplistic bandwagon mentality.”

Junior Joe Hanson said “I don’t think it’s really that important of an issue. We have bigger issues of corruption in our government, so I don’t think airplane travel is that concerning.”

Junior Eddie Rudegeair said, “I think it’s bad that Pence and the others are using taxpayer money for plane travel. It’s costing people a lot of money, so it should be stopped. They should probably fire the people who are using the money for that.”

As our national debt exceeds $20 trillion [4], it is important that taxpayer funds be used efficiently to ensure that we can pay for all programs and expenditures that we as a nation must pay for. Financial security is a very important issue, and we must address it as such.