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Monday
Feb012010

Analyzing Pelosi's travel tab

Commentary by Chris Carter

Recently released government documents show that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's travels cost more than $2.1 million. But why is the bill so high?

Based on my research of the documents, the aircraft most often used by Pelosi was the eight passenger C-37 – the military version of the luxurious Gulfstream V – which costs a whopping $5,594 per hour to operate. While that sounds expensive, it is certainly much more economical than the $20,000 per hour it costs to operate the 54-passenger military version of the Boeing 757 that Pelosi requested shortly after taking office.

The 757 is a vastly larger plane than the small Gulfstream jet that Pelosi's predecessor Dennis Hastert used: when configured for commercial flight, a civilian 757 can carry almost 300 passengers.

Prior to 9/11, the Speaker actually flew commercial. With today's heightened airline security risk, however it could be a national security risk for Pelosi to perhaps be seated alongside an al Qaeda suicide bomber. But let's compare what the Air Force – and ultimately the taxpayer – is paying to fly her versus the costs of flying commercial. According to a search for airfare prices, a first-class ticket from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco only costs about $800. Now compare that to Pelosi's average bill of $28,210.51 – one could fly 35 times for the price of one of her hops on the Air Force Gulfstream. And that's without the alcohol, meals, snacks, newspapers, etc. that the Speaker, her family, and other fellow travelers incurred.

Regarding travel expenses, I usually stick to a Dr. Pepper and a maybe a piece of beef jerky if I eat anything at all. But Judicial Watch said Pelosi and her entourage managed to rack up an incredible $101,429.14 bill for in-flight expenses according to the receipts found in the documents. Apparently her Air Force transit seems to have become more of a luxurious party barge rather than the secure mode of transportation it was likely meant to be.

Bearing all that in mind, it seems outrageous for the military to spend that kind of money ferrying a politician and her family from Point A to Point B when there are surely more urgent needs for defense dollars on the battlefield.

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    But because her congressional district is in California, Pelosi and her aides said she needs a larger plane that can fly coast to coast without refueling. The C-32 she requested is about the size of a Boeing 757-200 and has seating for 42 on it.