But there’s reason for those who fear for the nation’s debt to take heart. According to the Loop’s back-of-the-envelope calculations, the federal purse will still come out way ahead in the changing of the Cabinet guard during President Obama’s second term. That’s because we’ll wind up saving millions when we no longer have to pay for CIA Director Leon Panetta
to fly back and forth from Washington to his California home.
It’s not clear what the final tally will be for Panetta’s cross-country commute — made on a military jet, a mode of transportation required for his sensitive security-crucial position — but it was estimated at $800,000 back in April, and the bill has been steadily growing since then.
Panetta announced this month that he’s stepping down. Ka-ching!
Makes the Salazar savings seem like a drop in the bucket.
That song again?
How can you tell when budget season is approaching? It’s when you start getting missives from the agencies explaining why their work is absolutely essential and costs taxpayers peanuts.
For example, we got a “fact sheet” from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development titled “Ten Things You Should Know About the State Department.”
“We create American jobs,” the handout says, and “directly support 20 million U.S. jobs” by promoting open markets and such. They also provide emergency aid to Americans abroad, try to “make the world a safer place,” work to improve global health, development and the like.
The department has put out this information in the past, but it doesn’t seem to get through. The polls consistently show that strong majorities of Americans favor cutting aid programs and think foreign aid is up to 25 percent of the federal budget. (Actually, the cost for State and USAID combined is about 1 percent of the budget, the fact sheet says.)
As defense secretary, Robert Gates
drew laughs when he quoted former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice as saying that “we have more people in military bands than they have in the Foreign Service.” The bands cost an estimated $500 million a year.
So maybe if the Foreign Service officers practiced and got better at playing tubas and timbales, they could wow visiting congressional delegations and boost the budget?
Across the pond
Think you know who the next U.S. ambassadors to Ireland and the United Kingdom will be?