CAMPAIGNING ON THE BACKS OF TAXPAYERS Despite his campaign promise to change the way Washington does business, President Bush has recently been resorting to the time-tested fundraising tactics used by his predecessors. Recent revelations have pointed out that the President is traveling on the taxpayers' dime to fundraising events to stump for Republican candidates in hotly contested races.
Taxpayers Forced to Fund Private Campaign Trips
Here is a news update from Taxpayers for Common Sense. TCS is the best organization that monitors excessive government spending, corruption and corporate welfare.
On a recent trip to New York, President Bush toured the Police Department's command-and-control center [note for nostalgia buffs -- remember when Republicans used to oppose command-and-control?] and gave a 21-minute speech in order to stamp the seal of officialdom on his presence at a couple of much longer receptions where he helped raise $2 million for Gov. George Pataki's re-election campaign. Because of the official component to the trip, White House guidelines set in 1982 determined that taxpayers should pick up 54 percent of the local costs for the trip and 100 percent of the transportation, communications and security costs.
In order for this type of fundraising trip to qualify as "official" and merit taxpayer financing, an additional event is also scheduled where the President drops by a local site to put in an appearance and give a speech. These so-called policy events are rarely picked up by the national news media and it's questionable whether they would have ever been scheduled were it not for their piggybacking onto a campaign event. In many instances, the President's remarks at the official component of the trip aren't really distinguishable from his political stump speeches.
Unfortunately, official criticism of this outrageous use of taxpayer dollars is usually limited to the party that is not occupying the White House. This is the ultimate example of a double standard where it's only wrong if someone else is doing it. This year, it is mostly Democrats who are criticizing the use of taxpayer dollars to fly the President in to their Republican opponents' fundraisers. However, in the last election cycle, the roles were reversed when it was the Republican National Committee griping about Hillary Clinton's taxpayer-subsidized use of Air Force transportation during her campaign for the Senate. This year there's no doubt Republicans will remain tight-lipped on the issue.
The real travesty is the fact that this taxpayer waste, as well as the administration's unwillingness to disclose these figures, has increased exponentially with each election year. President Bush has already out-traveled President Clinton on political trips during his first 16 months in office. This year he will be making stops in all of the states where there are competitive Senate races.
To add fuel to the fire, the administration has even recently requested an increase in the White House travel budget from $1.6 million to $3.8 million. A good portion of this doubled funding is meant to cover travel expenses for Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge. However, with the White House's protests over disclosure of campaign travel, it's hard not to conceive that some portion of this extra budget will be used to ferry the President to "official" policy events in out of the way places, where by coincidence, there just so happens to also be a campaign fundraiser.
In response to criticism regarding this questionable use of taxpayer dollars, the current and past administrations have always been able to say that they're going by the book. Well, this is one book that needs to be rewritten.
For more information, contact Keith Ashdown at (202)-546-8500 ext. 110
or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
TCS is at www.taxpayer.net
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