Patterico's Pontifications

5/1/2008

Congressmen Lease Luxury Cars at Taxpayer Expense

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 6:42 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

Members of the House of Representatives can lease, maintain and insure luxury vehicles at taxpayer expense under a little known loophole that is not available to Senators. WCBS investigated New York and New Jersey Congressmen and found:

Congressman Charles Rangel leases a Cadillac DeVille for $774 per month.

Congressman Jose Serrano leases a Buick LaCrosse for $317 per month.

Congressman Gregory Meeks leases a Lexus LS460 for $998 per month.

Congressman Anthony Weiner of Brooklyn leases a 2008 Chevy impala for $219/month.

Congressman Ed Towns of Brooklyn used to lease a Lincoln for $845 per month, but switched to a 2008 mini-SUV made by Lincoln, the MKX, which costs $715 per month.

Instead of choosing a less expensive vehicle, Congressman Rangel insisted he needed a luxury car:

“CBS 2 HD: “How would you answer those people who say, ‘Well, but it’s taxpayer money. Instead of $700 a month, could you find something for, say, $300 a month?'”

Rangel: “I could probably find something for … one of those red cars and then I think my constituents would say, ‘With all the money that he gets, this is the respect he shows us?'”

Earlier, Rangel released a statement, further addressing the issue.

“When I’m in New York, my car is my office. I use it to conduct Congressional business. It really pleases me that (my constituents) appreciate driving in a comfortable car, especially the senior citizens,” Rangel said.

“The car isn’t just a vehicle for getting around; it’s an important part of doing my job and my constituents appreciate it.”

Sadly for Rangel, the taypayers WCBS interviewed thought Representatives should get by with less.

Anyone know how we can find out which Representatives lease vehicles under this program?

— DRJ

30 Responses to “Congressmen Lease Luxury Cars at Taxpayer Expense”

  1. I don’t know how to check, but Rangel has a strong point.

    These people are running America. An $800 car is not a big deal. If anything these people probably should have a pay increase. This just feels like class warfare. If you make it to that level of public service, you have an insane level of scrutiny on your life, and an insane amount of responsibility. Doing that job well is almost impossible.

    Having a nice company car is really not going too far.

    I remember Lamar Smith (Austin’s Congressman) used to have a sweet Porsche (not at public expense). He got rid of it and drives a Ford Focus. Why? I can’t get in his head, but it’s probably because people resent seeing their leaders live well. That’s sad. There’s something unnatural about choosing a Focus over a Porsche. It’s really a shame.

    While pork is extremely bothersome, and we’ve got to find a way to stop the insane growth in government spending, being a congressman is hard work, in my opinion underpaid work, and we need to provide enough incentive to do it that we can successfully outlaw all the graft.

    It’s like a town that doesn’t pay its mayor. All you get is a bunch of super-rich elite mayors, because the common man cannot afford to do the job. It’s expensive to keep a nice car in DC and your home state. The people should pick up the bill. With our trillions of annual spending, this program, which costs less than half a million a year, is not a big deal.

    Jem (4cdfb7)

  2. A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon we’re talking real money.

    The Dirksen Center claims Dirksen didn’t say this but he should have, and I’d take it even further. A million here, a million there, and we ARE talking real money.

    Of course, it helps to be rich to run for office but you don’t have to be rich to serve — nor do you have to drive a luxury car.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  3. DRJ, no, they don’t need a Luxury car. But I bet the difference in funding a Taurus and a Lincoln is tiny.

    Being a Congressman should have some perks. Lobbyist money should not be one of them, but a nice car should. From my POV, these people are the equivalent of Fortune 500 executives. If we’re going to cut out all the slimy stuff, we need to pay these people accordingly.

    and you do need to be rich to serve, or at least close to rich. Living in DC and living at home, with all the considerations for family (what does your spouse do?), that can be extremely expensive. We laugh that off, after all, these people make millions through secretive land deals (like Reid’s), or secret stock deals, etc. But we want to do away with that stuff, and at least a few of these congressmen do try to live honestly. The ability to do so, yeah, with a nice expense account for makeup, suits, a car, food, travel… all that saves the taxpayer millions, if not billions, if it means a few more honest congressman who can live the very nice life they deserve without making deals with lobbyists.

    My basic point is that this kind of thing probably saves money. They are going to get their nice car from somewhere. They can either get it from some oddball deal that benefited a lobby of some sort (and cost us billions) or they can just get it directly from us at a few thousand dollars a year.

    Jem (4cdfb7)

  4. Someone tell me how Hussein, Hillary and McCain are serving their constituents by campaigning endlessly for President and ignoring any efforts to actually vote. Why couldn’t they all miss important votes that failed like opening up ANWR to drilling? And barry hussein has the gall to often just vote present- really decisive leader there sitting on the fence to hide his far left agenda and still deemed the most liberal mutant in the senate.

    madmax333 (4a6663)

  5. Jem,

    Is Rangel a better Representative than Weiner because he drives a nicer car?

    DRJ (a431ca)

  6. I’ll bet Rangel’s Caddy has curb feelers.

    I don’t know about spinners though.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  7. Charlie Rangel is a poverty pimp, so it only makes sense that he would drive a pimp mobile.

    JVW (835f28)

  8. “One of those red cars”?

    roy (78d4a2)

  9. Rangel: “I could probably find something for … one of those red cars and then I think my constituents would say, ‘With all the money that he gets, this is the respect he shows us?’”

    I gots to have my Congressional bling.

    But I bet the difference in funding a Taurus and a Lincoln is tiny.

    See the list, Jem.

    Congressman Anthony Weiner of Brooklyn leases a 2008 Chevy impala for $219/month.

    The difference between that and Rangel’s Caddy is $555 a month, more than twice the cost of Weiner’s car. But hey, it’s not his money. It’s yours.

    Pablo (99243e)

  10. Argh. Infuriating! Newbies get a scooter. If they prove themselves to have the voter’s best interest at heart and evidence fiscal prudence with our money, a practical midsize…but abuse the privilege – its a bicycle for you bub!

    Dana (caf389)

  11. Rangel is one of those commenting that gas prices have doubled since 2001. Fuzzy math dumb a**. Gas prices have doubled since the democrats took control of congress and if the maintain control it will double again. They are planning billions of dollars in tax increases for the oil industry who by nature will put them on gas and pass it on to the consumers. How stupid do you have to be to serve in congress? Is there a test?

    Scrapiron (d671ab)

  12. How stupid do you have to be to serve in congress? Is there a test?

    The democrats have a stupid test. Whatever it is, Levi passes. Anybody stupid enough to believe what he says also would pass the test.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  13. “…one of those red cars…” = FERRARI

    Actually, they probably shouldn’t have anything that is not in the local GSA motor-pool. It might be good for them to be in a Ford Focus, etc.
    Driver included, of course.

    Another Drew (a28ef4)

  14. DRJ, Weiner is my favorite democrat. He totally saved my ass once, when I screwed up royally as an intern. Without going into detail, he’s a genuinely nice guy. And Rangel is a slimeball.

    I’m not buying Rangel’s argument that this is for his constinuents (I can see why my first comment might read otherwise). I’m buying the argument that Congressmen deserve a luxurious perk. They are super-ambitious people, and if we don’t cater to them, the lobbyists will.

    Remember, we’re talking about a half million dollar a year program. If Weiner and Lamar Smith want to send a message that they “drive the car of the little guy!”, fine, let ’em. But if the Congressman has the desire to drive a really nice car… he’s earned it.

    Pablo, you’re not seeing the big picture. The government pays for fuel, maintenance, probably a thousand other things, for each of these cars. The car itself is very tiny part of the entire package of what congressmen get, so the $200 a month difference from Weiner to Rangel is not quite as relatively big as we might think.

    ‘eh. I don’t really care that much about this. People will always make these fat-cat arguments. You hear it every time the congress gets a pay raise, too. There are people who think fiscal responsibility is paying each congressman little to nothing, given them a scooter, as said above, and forcing them to pay their own way.

    I promise, such an approach would lead to greater corruption. Consider this alternative: pay these guys One million $ a year, and a retirement of .5 million a year, and forbid them from having any other income for the rest of their lives. There is still the problem of spouses getting rich, but imagine, if these guys had nothing to worry about financially, how much less pork, earmark, and lobbyist crap would be going on. For the billion a year this program might cost, we’d save 100 times that, easily.

    Instead, we have people exiting government to make enormous amounts of money from companies they gave favors to in Congress.

    Jem (4cdfb7)

  15. Pablo, you’re not seeing the big picture. The government pays for fuel, maintenance, probably a thousand other things, for each of these cars. The car itself is very tiny part of the entire package of what congressmen get, so the $200 a month difference from Weiner to Rangel is not quite as relatively big as we might think.

    $555/month is $555/month. Rangel seems to require it while Weiner does not. I don’t buy the anti-corruption argument. Corrupt people are people who feel entitled and a company car isn’t going to change that. I’d prefer that we just elect public servants who take the job to serve the public interests. You know, the kind of people who can get by in a brand new Impala without a sense of shame.

    Pablo (99243e)

  16. A Buick La Crosse, Cadillacs, Lincolns, Lexus’ and a Chevy Impala? Sounds more like the shopping list of some proctologist getting ready to retire. Plus I noticed there really weren’t many interesting cars on the list which indicates either they knew that the citizens might not like the free rides or as a group their imaginations run toward driving the same type of cars their granddads did.

    Pat Patterson (f44efe)

  17. If I were a Democrat, I’d be more pissed at the guy driving a Lexus rather than a US marque.

    Dr. K (5139b5)

  18. Don’t forget, they are touch with the common man!

    Ha Ha

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  19. I forget the jurisdiction, but the office holder as a perk of the office was offered their official, used car at a cut rate that was lower than used retail. The said office holder had a tradition of making sure the car they had before leaving office was as expensive and tricked out as they could get away with.

    Rangel is a 1st class hypocrite. He rails at the CEOs living high, but Rangel lives just as high, but on the taxpayer’s backs. At least the CEOs pay for theirs with after tax dollars.

    If there were justice, these rich Democrats would have to drive themselves in 12 year old, ill maintained compact cars.

    PCD (5c49b0)

  20. Gotta drive a Cadacilac in Harlem, baby.

    mojo (8096f2)

  21. You just have to understand that some pigs are more equal than others. Ooops ! Sorry about the pigs part. Just a literary allusion.

    Mike K (86bddb)

  22. #14 Jem:

    I’m buying the argument that Congressmen deserve a luxurious perk. They are super-ambitious people

    I’m not, although I agree they are ambitious people. I don’t buy the argument that ambitious people need to be rewarded just for their ambition.

    There are many people aside from the 535 retards in Congress who work hard and make an impact on our daily lives that also work for the government, without expecting “perks.” Its not exactly like being a Congresscritter is difficult work.

    In fact, I

    think fiscal responsibility is paying each congressman little to nothing, given them a scooter, as said above, and forcing them to pay their own way

    is the way to combat corruption, not something that will be the cause of more of it. There are people willing to get into public service for whatever reason, and some of them are willing to give quite a bit more than their Congresscritter. Like Pablo says

    the kind of people who can get by in a brand new Impala without a sense of shame.

    In the past when I’ve been responsible for spending money that ultimately derived from taxes, I’ve been far more parsimonious with it than I ever was my own money~even though it was “small potatoes” in the larger picture, it was a huge amount of money to me. (Okay, so I think the amount of money that it takes to feed, clothe, and shelter family of four is a lot of money, and when I’m spending mutilples of that, I’m remembering what my sisters and their kids have to do without to pay for that, and multiplying that in my head to figure out how many other people are affected.)

    While I still think Weiner is a retard (sorry, getting an “F” from NRA-ILA isn’t anything to be proud of, it’s an indication that you are a retard who doesn’t understand the Constitution you’ve (in his case) affirmed to uphold), at least he’s a retard I can respect, in contrast to whiny Rangel who’s argument “my car is my office.” I just don’t buy. I’ve met some Congresscritters for various reasons, and the only time I can imagine them using their car as an office is if they’re doing a drug deal or something. As far as his statement “I think my constituents would say, ‘With all the money that he gets, this is the respect he shows us?’,” I think it shows that he needs to be educating his constituents that the US is not a third world country that runs on flash and that if he really “respected” them, he’d be cruisin’ his district on a plain (waxed and polished) Huffy monospeed bicycle.

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  23. There’s an Illinois State Police car parked outside a residence, at Harlem and Bloomingdale, Chicago, twenty-four hours a day. Newt Gingrich had a taxpayer-paid armed driver for his car.

    Just pay your taxes.

    nk (13d473)

  24. As Speaker of the House, Newt was entitled to a car and driver (goes with the job). The fact that his driver was armed was probably due to the crazies that made threats on his (Newt’s) life.
    Do you think Nancy has not availed herself of the same perks of office? She demanded a full-size transport plane to carry her entourage non-stop, coast-to-coast from the AF, instead of the smaller jet that they wanted to provide to her that wouldn’t be able to carry everyone, and have to make a re-fueling stop.

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  25. Sadly for Rangel, the taypayers WCBS interviewed thought Representatives should get by with less.

    Someone in NYC must have the courage to propose a referendum advising Congressional reps how little they should spend on such frills. It would be very entertaining to watch Rangel continue to make the case that he should be spending MORE taxpayer money — in the words of George Costanza — “all for the glorification of your MASSIVE ego!”

    L.N. Smithee (d1de1b)

  26. It’s ironic that Rangel sounds so much like Elmer Fudd because the Looney Tunes character that fits his performance on Capitol Hill is Porky Pig.

    L.N. Smithee (d1de1b)

  27. If Charlie Rangel needs a mobile office, wouldn’t he be better served by a VW bus 😉 Yeh, I know, when pigs fly.

    poodlemom (5c251b)

  28. Rangel’s comment is typical of “black leadership”. For many black politicians, the point of holding office is the social prestige – being a Big Man. That’s why so many have extreme cases of DYKWIA syndrome, humiliate and exploit their staff, and just have to have the fancy perks.

    Years ago I read that black consumers, more than any other market, bought goods for prestige associations.

    Black culture seems to instill a near-compulsion to perform, and seek the attention of an audience.

    Rich Rostrom (7c21fc)

  29. Poor Charlie Rangel needs a Caddy to move his people around town I wonder if he has to keep a log of passengers, I wonder how many folks have been in his ( Our car) Now with Representative Meeks he has just lost a vote, the paymen on the Lexus is more than my Social Security payment, these poor representatives it used to be one would wonder how many congressmen are millionaires now we try to find the one that are not. We need a clean sweep get rid of the congress. no wonder their approval rating is where it is.

    Darryl (94c956)

  30. Why do representatives get this “perk”? I thought those who chose to serve in “public” office were doing it for the betterment of society as a whole. In the real world, most of us pay for the vehicle, its upkeep, and especially the gas, ourselves. Its just a cost of living required to perform those things we do to survive. With the amount of money representatives make and all the loop holes, retirement plans, insurance benefits, and all the other perks they have given themselves, they SHOULD PAY THEIR OWN WAY!!!! Jeez Louise, is it any wonder the cost of gas and food these days does not impress upon them to do something about our dependence upon foriegn energy and developing our own energy independence?? Speaker Pelosi was off by a whole dollar when she was talking about the cost of gas a while back. Do they realize it is the them who are driving this country into the abyss of third worldom? Votes matter, choose wisely, and remember if they hang out with marxist, racist, terrorists in their everyday lives, who do you think will be thumbing through the secrets of this country and only GOD knows what they will do with what they find. THINK America… please… use what GOD gave you and think.

    Steve (cc1996)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.1461 secs.