In The Washington Post, columnist Dana Milbank looks at the culture that inspired officials at the General Services Administration to spend taxpayer dollars on extravagant conferences. Milbank asks: Who is to blame?
The answer is not who you would think. It’s not the GSA officials and big-spending members of Congress, but rather it’s the rare lawmaker who wants to slash spending.
Despite saying that “nobody’s excusing” Jeffrey Neely, the GSA official at the center of the scandal, Milbank goes on to do exactly that. “Lawmakers might pause the outrage long enough to think about how they have contributed to the culture that made Neely,” Milbank writes.
These are grim times for federal workers, with pay freezes and the prospect of massive cutbacks at year-end. No wonder a few people would get the idea, as Neely wrote in an e-mail: “Why not enjoy it while we have it and while we can? Aint going to last forever?”
According to this creative logic, there is only one way to deter wasteful spending – allow more of it. Only in Washington.