Wednesday Waste: Fly Time
Trips from Washington, DC to California can be expensive. Averaging $630 dollars one way, a round trip is more than most of us would spend to travel for the weekend. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta though gladly pays those cost to spend weekends at home in Monterey, CA. But while it costs Panetta the $630 dollars it costs the rest of us, the cost for his private government jet is more around $3,200 dollars an hour. At 10 hours for a round-trip, the Secretary’s weekend trips home cost the taxpayers just about $32,000 dollars, each.
All in all the trips have cost taxpayers around $860,000 dollars since Panetta took over the post as Defense Secretary. He has made 27 round trip flights since July of 2011 back to CA. Though government regulations require that the Defense Secretary be available at all times, the cost to the taxpayer is excessive to say the least. In defense of the Secretary, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey commented, “he doesn’t get much rest in California, based on the number of times I know that I’m in contact with him,” referring to Panetta.
Though the great task of serving as Defense Secretary is very stressful and undoubtedly deserves great respect from all Americans, even Panetta admits regret when referring to the cost of the flights saying, “I regret that it does – you know, that it does add costs that the taxpayer has to pick up.” Following the discovery of the cost though, the Defense Secretary has decided to “look at what are – the alternatives here that I can look at that might possibly be able to save funds and, at the same time, be able to fulfill my responsibilities, not only to my job, but to my family.”