SecDef Leon Panetta has been a respected servant of the people for a very, very long time. No one should begrudge him his loyal service to presidents of the Democrat persuasion. Perhaps we may want to rethink “resepected.”
Why should we care about Panetta’s long public service? Because it appears to come with a rather large sense of personal entitlement. An entitlement that, as is ever the case with those who “serve” the public, comes with a large price tag. Which we who pay taxes pay.
In this instance, Panetta’s weekly travels to and from his California home cost those of us who pay the bill over $800,000. Note that Panetta does reimburse the government for a small fraction of this. That must make him feel rather righteous. Panetta, after all, has gotten a reputation as something of a fiscal hawk. At least as far as such a thing ever exists among big-government Democrats.
As noted in the WaPo story, Panetta
…regrets that his frequent flights home to California on a military jet have cost taxpayers more than $800,000 since July. He gave no indication, however, that he would end the weekend commutes.
“I think it’s healthy to get out of Washington periodically just to get your mind straight and your perspective straight…”
Hmm. That’s right, Leon, get “your perspective straight.”
Just as straight as those GSA worthies, perhaps.
No one begrudges our SecDef with the ability to make crucial decisions at all times. In a classic reductio ad absurdum, Panetta’s flack said “No one wants the secretary of defense making decisions on classified military operations from the middle seat on a crowded commercial jet.”
No, that’s exactly what we all want. Surely there’s a happy medium that doesn’t involve sticking it to us taxpayers. For starters, isn’t there a Deputy Secretary of Defense, appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, who can make top-level decisions if the Secretary is unavailable?
More to the point, if DepSecDef can’t act in place of the Secretary, why do we waste the money on the position?
But Leon must have his private jet; must fly back home weekly. The good news? He “regrets” the expense. That makes two of us.
The larger point? Democrats are the party of that big, honkin’ and inefficient government. More is better, according to them. Guys like Panetta, who claim to be fiscal hawks, give away the game by acting just as badly as those GSA worthies.
After all, it’s not their money.