Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Here's An Envelope Full of Cash for You...

Again with Congress. Now there is a probe into Congresspeople’s use of per diems during travel:
Congressional rules say the daily travel funds, called a per diem, must be spent on meals, cabs and other travel expenses. But when lawmakers travel, many of their meals and expenses are picked up by other people, such as foreign governmentofficials or U.S. ambassadors.

That can leave lawmakers with leftover money. Lawmakers routinely keep the extra funds or spend it on gifts, shopping or to cover their spouses' travel expenses, according to dozens of current and former lawmakers.
WTF, right? I’ve been employed by a management consulting firm and a law firm as an adult, both of which rely on clients to pick up the tab for travel expenses, such as food and cabs. Both followed the same procedure: I buy my food, cabs, and other expenses, and then turn in my receipts.  Once the charges are approved as reasonable, I am reimbursed.  I understand this is how it works at many companies. 

Does Congress (who relies on we the taxpayers to pick up its expenses) do it like this? No. Of course not.  This is what they do:
The per diem program receives little oversight, and no records are kept for how the money is spent or how much is returned to the government after trips.

When lawmakers arrive in a foreign country, U.S. government officials give them an envelope with cash in the local currency. The money is meant to cover three meals and incidental expenses, which federal travel regulations say include transportation and tips for baggage handling and other services.

When lawmakers leave the country, U.S. government officials convert any leftover foreign currency into U.S. dollars.
So, they are given an envelope of cash, and no one pays any attention to what they do with that money. They can do whatever they want with it!  There is no oversight, as appears to be the case in many areas of our government.   

Awesome. And again I ask – these are the people we want in charge of health care?

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