Don’t worry, everyone.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, he who liked to take tiny expensive planes from one point to another, has been shown the error of his ways, and he is paying back $51.887.31 to the U. S. Treasury as a beautiful, symbolic gesture to the taxpayer. (That’s enough, according to Gary Cohn, to buy 57 brand new cars or redo 57 kitchens!) The total cost of his travel, as Politico found, was more than $400,000, but why should a little thing like that spoil the loveliness of this selfless act? He is only supposed to cover the cost of one SEAT on those planes, not the cost of flying the rest of the plane, a factor entirely out of his control.
“The taxpayers,” he wrote, “won’t pay a dime for my seat on those planes.” No, they won’t pay a dime. They will pay something around $350,000.
But there is no point for taxpayers in quibbling. After all, the person doing this has our best interests at heart. Why, he said as much in his apology.
“I regret the concerns this has raised regarding the use of taxpayer dollars,” Price wrote in a statement, issued Thursday. “All of my political career I’ve fought for the taxpayers. It is clear to me that in this case, I was not sensitive enough to my concern for the taxpayer.”
“I was not sensitive enough to my concern for the taxpayer.” Aha. That was what was happening.
Secretary Price has always been deeply concerned for the taxpayer, which is why it pained him so much to discover that Secretary Price was gleefully wasting their money on flights to beautiful islands. “By god!” he shouted, on discovering what Secretary Price had been doing. “THIS MAN MUST BE STOPPED, AT ONCE!”
I am always the first to speak up when someone is doing the taxpayer any kind of wrong, flying expensive private jets or trying to cut taxes on the extremely wealthy. I sometimes picket outside my own office for hours at a time. When I learned how I had conducted myself, both in the administration and outside it, well, I was just horrified. I immediately took prompt action: I waited for someone else to notice my behavior and complain about it. And then I apologized, kind of.
He should have been more sensitive. That was the trouble. He forgot how much he cared about the taxpayer. He thought, for a few blissful months, that it was “not at all.”