If you spend much time watching On The Record, you’ve undoubtedly seen one of Greta Van Susteren’s many segments on government waste. Yet, somehow she has not noticed two very egregious examples of wasteful spending by Republicans: a $17,000 drip pan, courtesy of a Republican Kentucky Congressman, and Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s birther investigation in Hawaii – at taxpayer expense. This while she was questioning Congress’ oversight with Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy – with regard to a federal judges’ junket in Hawaii.
Last night's segment was called “Government Gone Wild” but Van Susteren was only interested in some aspects of the government going wild.
“It turns out they have a long history of planning tropical getaways on your dime,” Van Susteren said about the 9th Circuit’s “million-dollar conference.” She noted that this comes “on the heels of the $820,000 GSA scandal” and asked, “So is anyone paying attention? Where’s the Congressional oversight? House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy joins us.”
“Is anyone watching the store?” Van Susteren asked.
Yes, McCarthy said, adding that now that Republicans are in charge, there’s transparency and, “Sunlight will clear up a lot of this.”
“It’s not exactly that transparent,” Van Susteren said. She wasn’t criticizing the Republicans but the GSA because the videos exposing its expensive frivolity only came out after a Freedom of Information Act request. “People had to fight to get those tapes,” Van Susteren added.
From there, McCarthy went on to attack Eric Holder for not turning over information regarding the Fast and Furious scandal - which has nothing to do with government spending. McCarthy never explained what Republicans are actually doing to prevent such waste and Van Susteren didn’t press.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported late last week about the Army wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on $17,000 drip pans that could easily be purchased for $2,500:
Thanks to a powerful Kentucky congressman who has steered tens of millions of federal dollars to his district, the Army has bought about $6.5 million worth of the “leakproof” drip pans in the last three years to catch transmission fluid on Black Hawk helicopters. And it might want more from the Kentucky company that makes the pans, even though a similar pan from another company costs a small fraction of the price: about $2,500.
The purchase shows the enduring power of earmarks, even though several scandals have prompted efforts in Congress to rein them in. And at a time when the Pentagon is facing billions of dollars in cutbacks — which include shrinking the Army, trimming back purchases of fighter jets and retiring warships — the eye-catching price tag for a small part has provoked sharp criticism.
Got that? Millions of dollars wasted here. Yet while Van Susteren talks night after night about the $820,000 GSA scandal – which is undeniably inexcusable - I’ve yet to hear a peep about this.
Did I mention that the “powerful Kentucky Congressman” the Times cited as being responsible for that expenditure is Representative Harold Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Appropriations Committee? And that the company that makes these drip pans just happens to be in Kentucky? Furthermore, this does not seem to be an anomaly for Rogers. The Times noted:
The company’s owners are political contributors to the congressman, who has been called the “Prince of Pork” by The Lexington Herald-Leader for his history of delivering federal contracts to donors and others back home.
Yet Van Susteren didn’t have a single question about that for McCarthy.
By the way, in case you think Van Susteren maybe didn't know about that New York Times article, I tweeted her about in on May 21 and said I hoped she'd report on it.
But speaking of Hawaii, Van Susteren also didn’t seem to have a care in the world about Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Secretary of State Ken Bennett wasting Arizona taxpayer money (as well as Hawaii’s) with an “investigation” and “inquiry” into President Obama’s birth certificate. The same one that was produced and authenticated in 2008.
Don't forget, Van Susteren is the one Fox News host Roger Ailes touts as a liberal.
Further, the 9th Circuit has made clear that they are holding a legal conference – any non-conference activities like the snorkeling and other fun vacation stuff Van Susteren sniffed about have to be paid for by the individual attendees. This is also not the first time they’ve met in Hawaii – I wouldn’t be surprised if they have a deal with the hotel.
McCarthy’s other nasty shot was to tell the Circuit judges and staff to either have their meeting via teleconference or to hold the get-together in his own district in Bakersfield. Van Susteren herself came up with the novel idea of telling the Circuit to use a high school gymnasium “for free”. As though this would actually be free and forgetting that one big part of the cost of the event is the travel and lodging to put everyone together in a single location. You could hold such an event at any high school (and have to pay for the resources) and you’d still have to get the attendees there.