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Author: TriSec    Date: 02/13/2018 10:42:05

Good Morning.

Well, the apples aren't falling far from the tree, are they?

A new report shows that Donald Trump’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs used taxpayer dollars to fly his wife to Europe last summer to see the Wimbledon tennis tournament.

Not only did Secretary David Shulkin use public dollars for airfare to Europe, but he “improperly accepted” the tickets to the tournament, according to the report.

In short, Trump’s choice to run the government agency that’s supposed to serve America’s veterans is using vital resources from the VA to fund his leisure trips – this after an entire campaign’s worth of promises from Trump that he will be the best president for veterans.

Of course, this isn’t just an isolated incident. This is part of a pattern of members of the administration – up to and including the president himself – using their positions for their own personal benefit.

The most high-profile member of the administration to be caught siphoning taxpayer money for personal travel – ex-Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price – was forced to resign amid similar controversy after he racked up a $1 million taxpayer bill.

As ABC News pointed out in October, Price was one of at least five other members of the administration – Treasure Secretary Steve Mnuchin, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway – who have used tax dollars to fund their personal travels.

The news that the administration is squandering money meant for those who fight to protect the country is particularly troubling, though, given the sacrifices veterans make for this country and how frequently the president promised to reward those sacrifices.

Nice work if you can get it, eh?

Ah, but that's not the only questionable spending that's going on. With the new budget requests in place, the Pentagon is looking at several billion dollars' worth of new hardware. Other than that pissing contest with North Korea, do we really need most of this stuff?

President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2019 budget request includes almost $686 billion to position the military for a more global fight, even as it replenishes aircraft and missiles that have worn out faster than planned due to counter terrorism operations.

The request would procure more fighters and ships, purchase tens of thousands of munitions to replenish stocks used in operations against the Islamic State, and infuse money into both the nuclear triad and missile defense.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighters
The budget sets aside $10.7 billion to buy 77 of the fifth-generation fighters.

Joint Direct Attack Munitions
The budget request asks for $1.2 billion to procure 43,594 JDAMs.

Joint Light Tactical Vehicles
DoD wants to buy 5,113 JLTVs, estimated to cost $2 billion.

KC-46 Tanker
About $3 billion would be used on 15 of the new tankers, meant to replace the aging KC-135 Stratotanker.

DoD wants to buy 24 F/A-18s, estimated to cost $2 billion.

VH-92 Presidential Helicopters
The budget request includes $900 million to buy six new presidential helicopters.

Virginia Class submarines
The Navy wants two of these submarines, which will cost $7.4 billion.

DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class Destroyers
The request includes $6 billion for three of these destroyers.

B-21 Raider Long Range Strike Bomber
About $2.3 billion is set aside for the long-awaited B-21, which would be part of the nuclear triad.

But like any budget, decisions have been made. Some things are going to have to be cut in order to pay for the shiny new hardware. I shouldn't have to tell you where the cuts are.

The 2019 presidential budget proposal includes a pay freeze for federal employees for the federal fiscal year, and documents the administration’s intention to rely more on “pay for performance” structures than the standard pay increase schedule.

The existing federal salary structure “rewards longevity over performance,” according to budget documents, which pointed specifically to tenure-based ‘step-increase’ promotions “that white-collar workers receive on a fixed, periodic schedule without regard to whether they are performing at an exceptional level or merely passable.”

Employee union groups, however, have labeled the pay-for-performance structure, and the corresponding removal of poor performers, as an attack on due process for federal employees.

“Federal workers shouldn’t be hired or fired on the whims of political appointees whose allegiance is to their political party, not the country’s best interests,” said American Federation of Government Employees national president J. David Cox Sr. “By stripping employees of their due process rights and firing those who reject his politics, President Trump is opening the door for rampant corruption, discrimination, and worker intimidation.”

“There’s due process and there’s over process,” said Robert Shea, principal at Grant Thornton and former associate director at the Office of Management and Budget, pointing to a table included in the 2019 budget proposal that details the complex process employees already have for reporting improper punishments.

The 2019 budget proposal relies on employee compensation cuts and changes to reduce the deficit by more than $70 billion by 2028. Much of this comes from reducing the government’s contributions to retirement and health programs and eliminating some programs such as special retirement supplements and the Federal Employee Retirement System cost of living adjustments.

But I suppose it really doesn't matter, we'll be shut down again in another three weeks anyway.


7 comments (Latest Comment: 02/13/2018 18:08:35 by Will in Chicago)
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