With more and more of Trump’s cabinet secretaries coming under scrutiny, the Trump administration’s culture of corruption is making headlines. We’ve released a new report on the waste and abuse at the highest levels of government, totaling roughly $2.6 million on extravagant travel and office upgrades. That’s 44 times what the average American family earns, and that money could have been spent to feed 951 seniors with Meals on Wheels for an entire year; to fund public school for 210 students; to send 1.89 million meals to families needing nutritional assistance; or, to provide Medicaid to 489 people. Instead:
- Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin’s use of military planes has cost the America public more than $1 million.
- Private flights seem to be a trend for this administration. Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin spent over $100,000 on a deluxe Europe trip with his wife.
- And, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has booked expensive helicopter and charter flights—as well as spent $139,000 on new doors for his office. His expenditures on these luxuries total over $150,000.
- There’s also Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, whose custom office furniture cost taxpayers $31,000.
- And, we can’t forget Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, whose fancy flights and odd office upgrades total over $300,000.
Trump came into the office pledging to “drain the swamp,” a reference to the legendary backroom deals and supposed government waste that has occurred for decades. It’s clear that Trump hasn’t drained anything—unless you’re counting the taxpayers’ wallets.
ACTION OF THE DAY
Food Insecurity. An advance notice of a proposed rule by the USDA would impose stricter rules on the SNAP program, which provides crucial food assistance to more than 40 million Americans. Advocates and experts are working together to generate as many comments as possible that make it clear that exposing more people to the harsh 3-month time limit would increase food insecurity and endanger millions of Americans. Send your own comment today!
Teachers Walking Out. Today, an expected 30,000 teachers in Oklahoma are walking out of classrooms and rallying at the capitol to demand fairer wages and significant increases in school funding. Currently, Oklahoma educators often need to work 10 years before even reaching the $40,000 salary mark. One teacher told reporters that he has six jobs just to make ends meet; in addition to teaching algebra at Yukon High School, he also drives school buses, coaches two teams, acts as an umpire for baseball and drives for Uber and Lyft. Budget conditions are no better. Over the last ten years, spending per student has fallen by nearly 30 percent and now, approximately 1 in 5 Oklahoma public schools are open just 4 days per week. Oklahoma teachers are joined by teachers in Kentucky, who are walking out after the legislature passed a damaging pension bill. Both of these strikes follow the West Virginia teachers’ strike, which led to a pay increase for those teachers whose salaries previously ranked 48th in the nation.
Sweet Deal for Pruitt. Last week, news outlets reported that the EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, has been spending his DC nights in a condo co-owned by the wife of a lobbyist for the energy industry (and when Pruitt was traveling abroad on the taxpayer’s dime, he was promoting the interests of that lobbyist’s energy client). Pruitt was paying $50 a night for a single bedroom in an upscale Capitol Hill neighborhood, but only on the nights when he actually slept there. We conducted an analysis on available Airbnbs in the neighborhood in which he was living, and we found that he was paying only a quarter of what you would pay to stay on Capitol Hill. When we asked tourists if they thought Pruitt’s living arrangements were fair, the overwhelming response was “no.” Check out that video here.
Diversity Anyone? In the past, the Trump administration has said it has a “really diverse team” and “want[s] to grow to be more diverse and more representative of the country-at large.” But its latest intern class photo suggests otherwise. A quick comparison to an intern class under President Obama shows that intern classes have become far less representative. But it’s not just the intern classes that are losing diversity. Trump’s judicial nominees are overwhelmingly white, and so are his cabinet members. These choices aren’t just bad for the administration’s image — they reflect the administration’s priorities and its consistent effort to undermine opportunities for people of color.
UNDER THE RADAR
Clean Energy = More Jobs. Clean energy has taken a hit under the Trump administration, from cuts for clean energy investment in the budget to nominating appointees who don’t believe in climate science. Oftentimes, Trump falsely claims climate action will hurt the economy. But a new report from the Center for American Progress finds that with strong ocean planning and a few reforms in state policy, U.S. offshore wind will create at least 75,000 jobs in manufacturing and construction, and revitalize America’s working ports and harbors. It’s just the latest evidence that workers stand to gain from the transition to a clean energy economy.