Washington, D.C. loves to party. And they especially like to stick you and other taxpayers with the tab when the night is over. It seems like just weeks ago, we were all marveling at the extravagant spending by the General Services Administration in Las Vegas.
It’s a classic example of what we call the “double standard.” Government employees are routinely held to a less rigorous standard of ethics than the one to which the private sector is held.
Here’s a perfect example: The IRS blew an estimated 49 million tax dollars on 225 conferences between 2010 and 2012. The most extravagant was the $4.1 million spent on a single event held near Disneyland for the agency’s Small Business/Self-Employed (SB/SE) Division.
This is the very division that hassles small businessmen all across the country for lost receipts. And guess what? The IRS can’t document how the entire amount was spent…They lost the receipts.
If that were you or me, we’d pay penalties and interest. But don’t hold your breath waiting for these IRS enforcement managers to cough up the money for which they can’t account.
The only reason we even know about theses extravagant parties the IRS held is because of a complaint filed by a whistleblower with the Treasury Department’s Inspector General (IG) for Tax Administration. The dirty details are outlined in a report issued by the IG, which labeled the meeting particulars as “excessive spending” by these tax collectors.
Pleading the Fifth
You may remember Jeffrey Neely – he was the GSA’s public buildings commissioner for the Pacific Rim region, and he was forced out of office after his wife posted pictures of their all-expenses-paid trip to the swanky Las Vegas M Resort Spa & Casino.
Like the IRS’s Lois Lerner, Jeffrey Neely invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and refused to answer any questions in congressional hearings after the partying was exposed. Trust me… as someone who has spent hours partying with members of Congress, I find it very amusing to watch them then question the bureaucrats in the administration about partying.
In fact, I’ve often felt that we could greatly improve the governance of our country if we required congressmen to be drug and alcohol tested before casting their votes. If you can’t legally operate a vehicle drunk, why is it you can still vote on the nation’s business in the capitol?
It’s a Capitol Hill ritual to make the rounds of fundraisers around the cocktail hour, and then mosey back to the floor for votes. Congressmen get trashed – and then they trash us.
Any discussion of partying in D.C. wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the blowouts they have down at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Obama is undoubtedly the Partier-in-Chief.
The same week President Obama’s team declared that, due to sequestration, all White House tours would be called off, they invited megastars Adele and Beyoncé to Michelle’s 50th birthday party bash. I bet that you and I will be paying the lion’s share of the expenses for her over-the-top party.
Or how about the party President Obama held in the White House’s East Room celebrating Memphis Soul Music. The celebrity-filled private concert and party included superstars such as Justin Timberlake, Queen Latifah, and Cyndi Lauper.
As Obama entered the room, Booker T. Jones of the 1960s R&B funk band “Booker T & the MG’s” played his hit “Green Onions.” This led Obama to declare: “It’s now my second term, so rather than ‘Hail to the Chief,’ we’re going with that from here on out — a little change in tradition.” Laughs rang out from the crowd of revelers. Taxpayers probably wouldn’t laugh if they realized how much these shindigs cost us all.
On any given night, 365 days a year, there’s a party going on in Washington, D.C. If you aren’t paying for it directly, then you’re likely paying for it indirectly.
And I guarantee you, they’ll keep partying until the lights go out and it all comes down around their heads.
This article originally appeared at CapitolHillDaily.com and is reprinted here with permission.