Let Them Eat Airfare!

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Ah, back to everyone’s favorite Congressional corruption mini-scandal. Now it turns out that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has a few delinquent travel reports in her closet. Tsk tsk. Now as far as I can tell, this isn’t even remotely in the same league as Tom DeLay’s little shenanigans, but hey, if it turns out that Democrats also deserve a slap on the wrist for ethics violations here, then fine, slap away. What’s interesting, though, is this little bit on the “scandal” of Congressional travel:

The data firm PoliticalMoneyLine calculates that members of Congress have received more than $18 million in travel from private organizations in the past five years, with Democrats taking 3,458 trips and Republicans taking 2,666.

$18 million dollars? Really now, this isn’t a lot of money in the context of total government spending. On the other hand, it’s a lot of money when considered as the sum of private favors from lobbyist to politician. The obvious thing to do, then, is to pool together an $18 million kitty and let members of Congress take trips out of public funds instead. There’s a decent case to be made, after all, that these congressional “fact-finding” trips abroad are sometimes valuable, and more often a fun and decent perk to the job.

The better argument, though, is to say: look, members of Congress are going to go travel abroad one way or another; they can either do on the dime of some trade organization or corporation looking for a favorable hearing on some pro-business bill, or they can do it using taxpayer money, which, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t all that much taxpayer money. Which would be a better state of affairs? I, for one, am more than happy to bribe politicians to stop skirting around the bounds of corruption!

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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