The Other McCain

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‘MuffinGate’: Obama Says We Must Tax the Rich Because Federal Officials Can’t Do Without $5 Swedish Meatballs

Posted on | September 20, 2011 | 35 Comments

The rich must “pay their fair share” or Obama will veto any deficit-reduction legislation. Why? Because the only alternative is to reduce the catering bill:

U.S. Justice Department agencies spent too much for food at conferences, in one case serving $16 muffins and in another dishing out beef Wellington appetizers that cost $7.32 per serving, an audit found.
“Some conferences featured costly meals, refreshments, and themed breaks that we believe were indicative of wasteful or extravagant spending,” the Justice Department’s inspector general wrote in a report released today.
The inspector general reviewed a sample of 10 Justice Department conferences held between October 2007 and September 2009 at a cost of $4.4 million, a period that included the administrations of Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama. The Justice Department spent $73.3 million on conferences in fiscal 2009, compared with $47.8 million a year earlier, according to the report.
The muffins were served at an August 2009 conference of the Executive Office for Immigration Review and the beef Wellington was offered at a February 2008 meeting hosted by the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys. A March 2009 conference of the Office on Violence Against Women served Cracker Jack, popcorn and candy bars at a single break, costing $32 per person, according to the report.
The report is a follow-up to one from 2007 that found the Justice Department had few controls to limit the costs of conference planning, food and beverages. That audit cited a reception that included Swedish meatballs costing $5 apiece.

Spending $32 per person for snacks at a conference? “Stimulus!”

If you don’t understand that, ask Paul Krugman. He won a Nobel Prize, y’know.


35 Responses to “‘MuffinGate’: Obama Says We Must Tax the Rich Because Federal Officials Can’t Do Without $5 Swedish Meatballs”

  1. John Rose
    September 20th, 2011 @ 11:47 pm

    $16 Muffins?! What in the world do you put in a MUFFIN to justify $16? Do we dare ask what the donuts cost?

  2. Joe
    September 20th, 2011 @ 11:50 pm

    I did not research this, but there may be a culprit here–called hotels. 

    Sometimes to get a conference room for an event, they structure it so you pay for some over priced coffee or meal service (and they give you the room for “free”).  So FYI. 

    Then again, doesn’t the justice department have conference rooms available? 

  3. Joe
    September 20th, 2011 @ 11:58 pm

    To quote John Travolta in Pulp Fiction: 

    Mrs. Mia Wallace:A five dollar shake.Buddy Holly:How do you want that shake: Martin and Lewis or Amos and Andy?Mrs. Mia Wallace:Martin and Lewis.Vincent Vega:Did you just order a five dollar shake?Mrs. Mia Wallace:Ummhh.Vincent Vega:That’s a shake . . . that’s milk and ice cream.Mrs. Mia Wallace:Last I heard.Vincent Vega:That’s five dollars? You don’t put bourbon in it or nothin’?Buddy Holly:No.Vincent Vega:Just checking.—–Vincent Vega:Goddamn, this is a pretty fu**ing good milkshake.Mrs. Mia Wallace:Told ya.Vincent Vega:I don’t know if it’s worth five dollars, but it’s pretty fu**ing good.

  4. Anonymous
    September 21st, 2011 @ 12:01 am

    Life is grand when someone else is paying the bills.

  5. CalMark
    September 21st, 2011 @ 12:05 am

    To say nothing of Obama’s $100/lb Kobe beef, using Air Force 1 for a date…I could go on and on.

    Bottom line:  it’s good to belong to the Ruling Class.

    As for us taxpaying peasant wretches:  “Let them eat cake.”

  6. Joe
    September 21st, 2011 @ 12:13 am

    Govenment workers are even more pathetic than journalists when it comes to open bars and buffets. 

    Although Iowa pig farmers see similar scenes all the time. 

  7. Joe
    September 21st, 2011 @ 12:15 am

    I bet you can train some of those Justice Department workers even to operate a coffee pot and make some delicious java! 

  8. chuck coffer
    September 21st, 2011 @ 12:23 am

    “I did not research this, but there may be a culprit here–called hotels. “

    Huh? Hotels didn’t exist the year before? WTF?

  9. McGehee
    September 21st, 2011 @ 12:25 am

    Even a dime bag of weed would still leave about $5.75 unaccounted for.

  10. Charles
    September 21st, 2011 @ 12:29 am

    Office on Violence Against Women stuffing its mouth with Cracker Jacks, popcorn and candy bars. Now you’re just trying to get on Greta.

  11. JeffS
    September 21st, 2011 @ 12:52 am

    Depends on the hotel, Joe.  Sometimes they include the service as part of the room rental.  Sometimes they have pay extra, or even hire a caterer.

    In any case, the culprit is not the hotel, it’s the agency  who signed the contract with the hotel.  It’s their responsibility to get the lowest costs possible, as per the Federal Acquisition Regulations. 

    What happens in these cases is that some bigwig wants to hold a conference, and score some points in office politics.  So they look for the fanciest hotels in the most attractive locations, usually some place where the spouses can come along to enjoy the sights and shopping.  It becomes a “working vacation”. 

    With that sort of criteria in mind — and the hotels are keenly aware of this sort of behavior — the game is “bait and switch”.  The hotels will offer a great deal on the rooms, from which they make their basic costs, and probably a decent profit. 

    But everything else costs out the wazoo.  It’s often figured into the cost of the conference facilities (some Federal agencies prohibit buying food for meetings), but if not, well……the Feds want only the best, right?

    Yeah, right.

  12. Bob Belvedere
    September 21st, 2011 @ 1:03 am

    I could understand $16 for a Muffin Top, but this is ridiculous.

  13. Adjoran
    September 21st, 2011 @ 1:19 am

    You know Obama peeps – first class all the way, just as long as they don’t pay.

    The entire Executive Branch needs not only cleaning out, but a thorough fumigation.  Much of it need not even be re-staffed.

  14. Bob Belvedere
    September 21st, 2011 @ 1:31 am

    Pest control.

  15. Christy Waters
    September 21st, 2011 @ 2:01 am

    I’ve always wanted to eat Cracker Jack at the Violence Against Women conference.

  16. Anonymous
    September 21st, 2011 @ 3:53 am

    And that is the issue. When others are paying people tend to get pretty irresponsible. Most in government treat government resources like people treat a rental car. You go over speed bumps differently when you own the vehicle and will have to pay for future maintenance.

  17. Anonymous
    September 21st, 2011 @ 3:56 am

    From what I remember of government meetings or now with the charity I’m involved in, the guy who calls the meeting (or hosts) picks up some doughnuts on his own dime. Then again I was in Navy not DoJ.

  18. Anonymous
    September 21st, 2011 @ 3:57 am

    For clarification in above where I say doughnuts that usually was beer and pizza.

  19. Joe
    September 21st, 2011 @ 4:02 am

    Spot On JeffS. 

  20. Joe
    September 21st, 2011 @ 4:06 am

    Hotels have been doing this for..say at least 2000 years. 

    So the wife is pregnant and you need a room?  It’s your lucky day.   I have something in the back…

  21. Joe
    September 21st, 2011 @ 4:07 am

    These prices are higher than concessions at a National’s game! 

  22. Joe
    September 21st, 2011 @ 4:08 am

    McGehee, a dime bag of weed is a lot more than $10 now a days. 

    So I have been told. 

  23. JeffS
    September 21st, 2011 @ 4:15 am

    That’s because the rules are different in the Department of Defense: there’s no direct purchase of food for meetings.  Either you pass the hat, or cut a deal with the hotel to include the price of munchies in the rent charges.  I’ve seen it happen both ways.

  24. Anonymous
    September 21st, 2011 @ 4:29 am

    Then it isn’t a dime bag. You’d be surprised how small they make little manila envelopes. They used to sell them in parks and such across he street from construction sites in DC at lunch time.

  25. Anonymous
    September 21st, 2011 @ 4:31 am

    “Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state.  They forget that the state lives at the expense of everyone.” — Frederic Bastiat

  26. Adjoran
    September 21st, 2011 @ 5:25 am

    I like it! – but unless you’re a really good broken-field runner, don’t show up with a tee-shirt reading “Shut Up And Get Me A Beer” . . .

    Don’t ask how I know this.

  27. Adjoran
    September 21st, 2011 @ 5:27 am

    Rules and practices don’t apply to the Obama Administration.  He’s Special – didn’t he tell you?

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  29. Anonymous
    September 21st, 2011 @ 12:16 pm

    Meanwhile, the official “ethics rules” are structured so that “officially” government employees and civilians can’t buy each other a happy meal. The official limit is something like $5 without doing enough paperwork to choke a cow.

    From the standpoint of ethics, I’m not sure who’s more insulted, the briber for the idea that he’s such a cheapskate or the bribee who’s just been told he can be bought that cheap.

    Of course, all that paperwork requires at least a job’s worth of everyone’s time to fill out, plus  another job or three to make sure it’s all been filled out, plus a warehouse to store the paper, plus a computer system or 3 to keep track of when it was filled out, and where it’s stored, and keep track of when it needs to be filled out again, then add a trainer to teach you how to fill it out, and another to write the lesson plan, ad infinitum, ad nauseam, ad infinitum nauseam, and back again.

    Meanwhile, they’ve strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel of real actual Solyndra level corruption.

  30. Anonymous
    September 21st, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

    Adjoran, see above. This racket far predates Obama; he’s just raised it to an art form.

  31. Anonymous
    September 21st, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

    And don’t open your introduction of the new diversity gal by advising the audience to put their cell phones on pleasure mode…. God bless 2nd Lieutenants!

  32. JeffS
    September 21st, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

    Pretty much, SDN.  The so-called ethic rules are of value only to the lawyers and senior management, who use them to make sure the lower classes toe the line. 

  33. ThePaganTemple
    September 21st, 2011 @ 2:28 pm

    All I know is if I ever got suckered into paying sixteen dollars for a muffin, that had better be the damn best muffin I ever ate.

  34. Joe
    September 21st, 2011 @ 10:34 pm

    Go up to the John Travolta/Pulp Fiction dialog above!

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