04.16.2018 0

The left is making mountains out of molehills to distract Republicans and the Trump administration

By Natalia Castro

Democrats have never been fans of fiscal conservatism unless it furthers an attack on Republicans. From media outlets to political figures, the left has attempted to convince the American people that various executives within the Trump administration are wasting taxpayer money on lavish unnecessary expenses. Yet, as the facts prove once again, this is nothing more than an attempt to obstruct the success of this administration with hypocritical claims.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin assisted President Trump in implementing one of the largest tax cut overhauls in our nation’s history, so it is no surprise the left has decided to make him a target for attack. Several media outlets, such as the Huffington Post, have reported issues with Mnuchin’s travel expenditures, questioning his use of military planes rather than commercial flights.

These attacks are both unwarranted and hypocritical. Last week, the Treasury Department released information regarding the travel of Secretary Mnuchin and his recent predecessors to dispel rumors of abuse.

Treasury reports show that Mnuchin spent about $1.2 million on travel in FY 2017 and has spent $781,000 on travel so far in FY 2018, with a majority of his flights using commercial airlines rather than private military planes.

This is significantly less than the roughly $3.2 million Treasury Secretary Jack Lew spent in FY 2016 on travel or the roughly $2.2 million Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner spent in FY 2011 on travel. Both Secretaries served under President Obama.

While Mnuchin did spend more in his first year in office than either of his predecessors, the difference of $135,000 between Mnuchin and Geithner’s first-year travel expenses hardly requires outcry by the left, especially considering the inspector general has already reviewed Mnuchin’s expenses and saw no violation of the law.

Clearly, the left is promoting baseless attacks to delegitimize a successful member of the Trump administration, and Mnuchin is not alone. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Director Scott Pruitt and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson have also been victims of repeated attacks regarding expenditures.

Pruitt has been mocked for his expensive spending on travel and security. As Michael Biesecker of the Chicago Tribune reported, “Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt’s concern with his safety came at a steep cost to taxpayers as his swollen security detail blew through overtime budgets and at times diverted officers away from investigating environmental crimes. Altogether, the agency spent millions of dollars for a 20-member full-time detail that is more than three times the size of his predecessor’s part-time security contingent.”

But three times the expenses on security should not be a point of criticism about Pruitt but instead on the people requiring Pruitt to act in this way.

The EPA’s assistant inspector general for investigations, Patrick Sullivan, told CNN on Nov. 2017, “We have at least four times — four to five times the number of threats against Mr. Pruitt than we had against [Obama’s EPA Chief] Ms. McCarthy… They run the variety of direct death threats — ‘I’m going to put a bullet in your brain’ — to implied threats — ‘if you don’t classify this particular chemical in this particular way, I’m going to hurt you.’”

Additionally, the Washington Examiner reported on Feb. 2018; the EPA currently has 70 open probes into threats against Pruitt and his family. This is the reason the EPA’s Criminal Investigations Division decided to provide Pruitt with a 24/7 security detail to ensure his and his family’s safety.

Pruitt did not become EPA director and decide he wanted lavish travel and constant security; the threats levied against his family by the left caused him to need this expensive security detail. Liberals created this problem and are now blaming Pruitt for being a victim.

Meanwhile, at HUD, Congressional Democrats such as Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), have called Carson’s spending of $31,000 on furniture for HUD offices “extremely disturbing” and led Congressional probes into Carson’s spending.

While Carson has admitted his spending should have been better controlled, it is by no means excessive compared to previous administrations.

As the Washington Free Beacon reported in Feb. 2015, the Obama Administration’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spent $147.7 million on furniture between FY 2010 and FY 2014. This included $1.1 million for furniture in a single Vermont office, $2.4 million for furniture in a single D.C. office and $163,856 for “waiting room seating” in one office in 2014.

Obama’s DHS also spent an incredible $148, 809 for “aluminum folding tables in support of Sandy Recovery Office” a full two years after Hurricane Sandy occurred in 2012. To be clear, a single aluminum folding table on Amazon is $39.99, Obama’s DHS could have purchased nearly 4,000 tables with these funds for an office quickly becoming purposeless, yet the left is attacking the Trump Administration for improper spending.

Despite all this, Carson is still trying to prevent this abuse and misuse of funds from being allowed in his office, even if he is barely a culprit.

Last month, Carson introduced new financial controls “to enhance department’s fiscal strength and integrity.” In a press release, Carson explains, “We simply need to do better. An updated system of internal controls will provide our agency with greater certainty that the dollars we spend are spent in a manner that satisfies all laws and regulations, and most importantly, the American people. We will approach this as any business would by increasing transparency and accountability.”

The Trump Administration is working tirelessly to eliminate waste and introduce successful policy. Naturally this scares the left. While politicians and the liberal media continue to make baseless claims against this administration, individuals such as Mnuchin, Pruitt, and Carson must continue fighting for better policy for the people. Whether you believe excessive spending by executives is not an issue at all or one that has plagued every modern administration, the reality is it is not a uniquely Republican issue, and the left’s attempts to frame it as one must be rejected.

Natalia Castro is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government.

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