IN RECENT years, few members of Congress were as outspoken as Republican Tom Price on the urgent need to bring discipline to what he called Washington's "reckless spending." It seems Mr. Price, formerly a congressman from suburban Atlanta and now secretary of health and human services, was studying that culture all too carefully.
Last week, Mr. Price spent roughly $25,000 on a private charter jet for a round-trip journey from Washington to Philadelphia, according to a detailed report in Politico. The same trip on a commercial flight, leaving at nearly the same time, would have cost less than $1,000 per ticket. Amtrak makes the trip twice every hour during the day at an even lower price — and D.C.'s Union Station is about an eight-minute drive from Mr. Price's office. On the speedy Acela, the trip takes 90 minutes. Taking into account travel to the airport, Mr. Price might very well have saved not just thousands of dollars by taking the train, but also time.
The back-and-forth trips to Philadelphia were among at least two dozen such flights Mr. Price took since May, at a likely cost to taxpayers in the range of $300,000, Politico reported. Mr. Price seems to think it's his birthright to use private charter planes to jet around the continental United States.
After Democrats expressed outrage — Republicans, those avatars of prudent stewardship of taxpayer dollars, were mostly mum — a spokeswoman for Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson told The Post that Mr. Price's travel will be the subject of an investigation.
An HHS spokesman defended Mr. Price's travel arrangements as justified by his "extremely demanding schedule." Poor fellow! As if Washington were not amply stocked with people as busy as the self-important Mr. Price, most of whom somehow scrape by on commercial transportation. The Obama-era HHS secretaries who preceded Mr. Price, Kathleen Sebelius and Sylvia Mathews Burwell, with very few exceptions, flew commercially around the continental United States. They also had "extremely demanding schedules."
Mr. Price previously attracted notice for commending police in West Virginia after they arrested a reporter who had the temerity to intrude on his sublime sense of serenity by asking him a few questions about health-care policy as he walked through the State Capitol; he said the arrest was justified because the questions had not been posed in a news conference. Alarmingly for Mr. Price's well-being, the charge against the reporter was dropped.
Mr. Price for years styled himself as a warrior against waste, fraud and abuse. By excelling at waste and abuse, he seems determined to prove himself the fraud.
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