You would think the Speaker of the House would know better. Before departing for August recess, Nancy Pelosi and members of her House voted for eight well-appointed jets, tucked within a $636-billion bill to fund the Department of Defense’s upcoming fiscal year. The Department of Defense, which manages 24 or so planes used by government officials, requested to buy only one Gulfstream and three 737s to supplement the fleet.
While Americans suffer through the worst recession of their lives, the House doubled what was advised and opted for three crème de la crème Gulfstream Vs at $66 million apiece and five military versions of the Boeing 737, equipped with office and private sleeping quarters, at $70 million apiece, for a grand total of $550 million.
Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell commented that the Department of Defense didn’t request the additional planes and doesn’t need them. “We ask for what we need and only what we need. We’ve always frowned upon earmarks and additives that are above and beyond what we ask for,” The WSJ reports Morrell as saying.
Judicial Watch uncovered the Pentagon’s response to Ms. Pelosi’s numerous Gulfstream V scheduling requests earlier this year. A Department of Defense e-mail asks, “Any chance of politely querying [Pelosi’s team] if they really intend to do all of these or are they just picking every weekend?…[T]here’s no need to block every weekend ‘just in case.'”
An e-mail from a member of Pelosi’s staff to the Pentagon reads, “It is my understanding there are no [Gulfstream] 5’s available for the House during the Memorial Day recess. This is totally unacceptable…The speaker will want to know where the planes are.” Upon learning on a separate occasion that an aircraft would not be available, the same Pelosi aide responded, “This is not good news, and we will have some very disappointed folks, as well as a very upset Speaker.”
The House voted to kill the F-22 fighter jet program, citing cost as the central issue, and attacked executives at GM, Chrysler, and Citigroup about the message their private jet travel sends. The issue has never been about money for the F-22; it is about c-o-n-t-r-o-l, and the private jets are exactly what Congress has envied.
The battle is on between the public and the private sectors. The out-of-control trajectory of government spending, which amounts to 24% of GDP and counting must be stopped. And for the sake of this country, I hope it’s not too late.
If you’re like me, you don’t like what you’re seeing. I’m in the trenches daily for people like you, picking through this mess to understand the issues and to help you make informed decisions. Don’t be fooled by your government.
Notice the change in Ms. Pelosi after she was called out and the additional Gulfstream orders were cancelled: “The speaker is extraordinarily appreciative of the Department of Defense’s efforts to accommodate requests from Congress,” said a spokesman for Pelosi. I should hope so, Madame Speaker.
E.J. Smith is Managing Director of Richard C. Young & Co., Ltd. an investment advisory firm managing portfolios for investors with over $1,000,000 in investable assets.