It is increasingly difficult to keep track of who works in the Trump regime and who does not. Almost thirty high-ranking Trump appointees or cabinet members have left or been fired from their positions since January. On Saturday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price became the latest casualty in a long line of Trump appointees and “great people” to leave his post — after accruing almost $400,000 in luxury travel costs.
Amid the growing scandal surrounding Price’s expenditures for private flights, the former secretary hinted last week that he would reimburse taxpayers for “his seat” on those flights. However, considering the total cost of several extravagant flights for personal and government business, the cost of Price’s seat alone is a mere $50,000. He has not said whether he will pay for his entourage and now that he has left office, taxpayers may eat the entire cost of his travels.
In the grand scheme of the federal budget, $400,000 does not seem like a lot. It probably does not seem like a lot to Tom Price, Donald Trump, Betsy DeVos, Steven Mnuchin, or any number of Trump appointees who carry that as pocket change. Most of America cannot afford to think in terms of $18,000 flights from D.C. to Nashville — at $163 per minute in the air. For the rest of America, $400,000 is almost a decade of salaries; dozens of college degrees; or a half-million gallons of clean drinking water for victims of Hurricane Maria.
While Trump bashed Price last week for the travel scandal, he did little to curb his own indulgent spending and vacationing. He also did not address the issue of any number of other appointees who have been jetting around the globe in the name of some enigmatic government pursuits; or how his family’s personal vacations have affected federal spending.
As Tom Price departed Washington, Trump was enjoying another weekend golfing at his Bedminster, N.J. resort. He followed two days of golf with a stop at another golf course where a tournament had just concluded. Arriving at the last hole, he graciously dedicated the winner’s trophy to the victims of recent hurricanes.
“I want to just remember them,” he said Sunday afternoon while standing with the tournament winner. Acting like the child he is, Trump hoisted the trophy and patted it as if he had just won the championship himself. “We’re going to dedicate this trophy to all those people who went through so much, that we love, that are part of our great state.”
It is difficult to understand how Trump’s actions, speech, and sentiment continue to pass for that of a coherent adult and leader. As another cabinet member leaves behind a $400,000 travel bill, Trump is accruing expenses at a rate that will eventually bankrupt some federal agencies. Already, the Secret Service has exceeded its budget for the costs associated with guarding Trump Tower in Manhattan. Every trip to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida costs taxpayers $3 million or more.
The Trump regime is riddled with incompetence that is costing America more than hard-earned money. His cadre of millionaires and billionaires — the richest cabinet assembly in history — seems incapable of accomplishing even the most basic policies for working Americans and families.
Public service is not an undertaking for the faint of heart and it is a not a country club board position. Anyone who has worked in public service knows that it is a thankless and underpaid job. By filling his regime with ultra-rich and ultra-privileged men and women who cannot find an altruistic bone in bone in their bodies, Trump created a government destined to fail. It is all a game of take, take, take.
The irony of all Trump’s excess is that a majority of the people who adore Trump the most are those most hurt by his personal indulgences. It is difficult to surmise what they expected they were getting with Trump: the flashy reality TV star that they guffawed over, or the political neophyte full of grandiose promises that no one cared to investigate or question.
The first line of Trump’s “Art of the Deal” should have been a warning to those who dove into the Trump 2016 rally cries to “Make America Great Again.” As Trump’s people abandon him, and he in turn abandons his own self-proclaimed negotiation skills, more Americans are beginning to understand that Trump will fail.
If a deal like Trump offers — with his promises and plans for castles in the sky — sounds too good to be true, it usually is. It is wise to remember the Trump who has declared bankruptcy on several occasions. It is only a matter of time before he bankrupts the nation, both financially and morally. As long as Trump remains in Washington, there will always be a Price to pay.