Elites seem to be taking the populist blow to neoliberalism the election of Donald Trump represented very well:
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has billed taxpayers for the most expensive flight options available at every turn, appearing to never even consider flying commercial as his predecessors did, according to previously unreleased documents obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
CREW filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for Mnuchin’s flight records following a military jet trip to Fort Knox, KY with his wife, Louise Linton, which coincided with the eclipse. The Treasury Department failed to turn over any records, leading CREW to sue. Months later, CREW received records which, though heavily redacted, showed that Mnuchin apparently abused his access to military and non-commercial aircraft for both business travel and occasional personal travel.
“From the documents we obtained, it appears Secretary Mnuchin considers first and foremost his own comfort and ease, leaving the protection of taxpayer money at the bottom of his list of priorities,” CREW Chief FOIA Counsel Anne Weismann said.
The documents CREW obtained show that between the spring and fall of 2017, Mnuchin took seven separate trips on military aircraft at a total of nearly $1 million. None of the requests for White House Mission delegation — needed to use the government aircraft — explicitly state or otherwise suggest how they are at the explicit direction of the president.
During a Cabinet meeting at the White House last October, President Trump extolled the virtues of the men and women surrounding him at the table.
“A great trust has been placed upon each member of our Cabinet,” he declared. “We have a Cabinet that — there are those that are saying it’s one of the finest group of people ever assembled . . . as a Cabinet. And I happen to agree with that.”
Less than five months later, Trump finds himself presiding over a Cabinet in which a number of members stand accused of living large at taxpayer expense — often by aggressively embracing the trappings of their high government posts.
At least a half-dozen current or former Trump Cabinet officials have been mired in federal investigations over everything from high-end travel and spending on items such as a soundproof phone booth to the role of family members weighing in on official business. On Wednesday alone, newly disclosed documents revealed fresh details about spending scandals at both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
A shameless grifter like Donald Trump becoming the Republican nominee for president is an unfathomable mystery that will never be explained.
I do remain confident that rapidly rising salaries for top corporate executives represent objective measures of market value by the unfettered free market and not the looting of workers and shareholders by a closed cartel, though.