Could U.S. Politicians Be Ripping Off Taxpayers Like UK Politicians?

2 Jun, 2009  |  Written by  |  under Economy and Politics

The people of the United Kingdom have been outraged at their politicians using taxpayer money to buy personal items.  Such outrage peeked a couple of weeks ago forcing the Speaker of Parliament to resign.

When this scandal broke, I wondered whether US politicians were engaged in the same fleacing of American taxpayers.  Well, unfortunately, today’s Wall Street Journal confirmed that they are.

It turns out that Rep. Alcee Hastings leased a 2008 Lexus Hybrid using taxpayer funding.  Rep. Micheal Turner bought a $1,435 digital camera using taxpayer money.

The Wall Street Journal was quick to highlight that these expenses are legal.  But, who cares if they are legal.  It is not acceptable for members of Congress to have taxpayers fund their expenses.

The US law gives US Congressman an allowance that is to be used for “official and respresentational expenses.”  An interesting point about the US law is that the politicians have to returned to the GSA when the politician leaves office.

Another part of this story that drives me nuts is that at the end of 2008, our politicians made lots of purchases in order to use up all of their 2008 allowances.  Now, at the end of 2008 we were in the middle of this recession.  You would have hoped that they would have saved as much money as possible.  But, no.  They just keep spending and spending.

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