Something Stinks, And It Isn’t Caviar

It’s no secret, times are tough. Many families are struggling to keep up with their bills and some are having a hard time keeping food on the table.

With the costs associated with the bailout fiascos introduced by the Bush administration and the continued bailouts, stimulus packages, and proposed health care tax increases by the Obama administration families across this country will have a rough time for an extended period of time.

During this time of economic upheaval, the administration as well as members of Congress should be cutting back, shouldn’t they? Shouldn’t they be trying to save money wherever possible, especially when many of their expenses are paid by us, the American people?

With the idea of “cutting back” in your mind, guess how many members of Congress made the trip to Copenhagen for the climate change conference last month? Three? Five? Ten? How about Twenty?

CBS investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports that cameras spotted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the summit. She called the shots on who got to go. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and embattled Chairman of the Tax Committee Charles Rangel were also there.

They were joined by 17 colleagues: Democrats: Waxman, Miller, Markey, Gordon, Levin, Blumenauer, DeGette, Inslee, Ryan, Butterfield, Cleaver, Giffords, and Republicans: Barton, Upton, Moore Capito, Sullivan, Blackburn and Sensenbrenner.

Why did the United States need 20 members of Congress at this conference? I guess we won’t know because Speaker Pelosi’s office hasn’t released any cost estimates and would not agree to be interviewed by the reporter who wrote the article.

So how did they get there? They used two military 737’s and a Gulfstream 5 to get there. The Gulfstream held up to 64 passengers.

But wait. There is more.

Additional Senators (with their staff) also attended the conference, some with their spouses. To be fair, the spouses may have utilized open seats on the military jet, and the room costs were the same whether there was one person or two sleeping there.

CBS reports that there were up to “101 Congress-related” attendees. They also report:

Until required filings are made in the coming weeks, we can only figure bits and pieces of the cost to you.

  • Three military jets at $9,900 per hour – $168,000 just in flight time.
  • Dozens flew commercial at up to $2,000 each.
  • 321 hotel nights booked – the bulk at Copenhagen’s five-star Marriott.
  • Meals add tens of thousands more.

Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense, wasn’t against a U.S. presence. But he said, “Every penny counts. Congress should be shaking the couch cushions looking for change, rather than spending cash for everybody to go to Copenhagen.”

I agree completely. I don’t care what they’re reasoning is, did we really need to send such a large presence to the conference and produce enough carbon dioxide to fill 10,000 Olympic sized swimming pools? I thought the conference was all about climate change and saving the planet?

Forget the checkbooks and accountability for a second. The members of Congress who attended the conference did more to choke our planet in one day than you, and I, and a hundred of our friends would (or could) in an entire year.

Kudos to CBS for calling out Congress on this one. The problem with members of Congress is they aren’t used to being held accountable for anything.