The Washington Post

Dem congressman: Cut the luxury government rides


Luxury limos are a small fraction of the federal government’s vehicle fleet, and the Homeland Security and State departments operate almost all of the U.S. government’s 130 limousines, save for five used by USAID, according to General Services Administration 2012 data. But at least one Deep South Democratic congressman thinks that’s 65 limos too many.

Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) introduced legislation late last week calling for a 50 percent reduction in the federal government’s limo ownership in fiscal 2015. The number of taxpayer-funded limos jumped in the first two years of the Obama administration, with 412 in the government fleet in 2010. But in the last two years it’s been cut by around two-thirds. (Government agencies have 650,061 vehicles in all.)

But that’s more about accuracy than austerity. Turns out agencies had been misreporting their types of vehicles, counting vans and bus shuttles as limos. More accurate reporting — a limo is now specifically defined by GSA as “a vehicle with a lengthened wheelbase, generally driven by a dedicated driver” — explains the drop in government limo use, not a concentrated effort to cut, although an administration official pointed to an Obama directive in 2011 to reassess the size of the government fleet as a factor.

Still, Barrow thinks more cuts could be had.

“No one questions the need for safe and secure travel for our top government officials and foreign dignitaries, but in hard times you can have too much of a good thing,” Barrow told the Loop in an e-mail. His office estimates it could amount to millions in savings, but didn’t have an exact figure. Barrow, a moderate Democrat, fighting for his re-election, has pinpointed a series of small government costs to eliminate in the name of weeding out wasteful spending.

Also on the chopping block? Tax deductions for legal brothels.

Colby Itkowitz is the lead anchor of the Inspired Life blog. She previously covered the quirks of national politics and the federal government.

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