Let Them Eat Airfare!

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Ah, back to everyone’s favorite Congressional corruption mini-scandal. Now it turns out that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has a few delinquent travel reports in her closet. Tsk tsk. Now as far as I can tell, this isn’t even remotely in the same league as Tom DeLay’s little shenanigans, but hey, if it turns out that Democrats also deserve a slap on the wrist for ethics violations here, then fine, slap away. What’s interesting, though, is this little bit on the “scandal” of Congressional travel:

The data firm PoliticalMoneyLine calculates that members of Congress have received more than $18 million in travel from private organizations in the past five years, with Democrats taking 3,458 trips and Republicans taking 2,666.

$18 million dollars? Really now, this isn’t a lot of money in the context of total government spending. On the other hand, it’s a lot of money when considered as the sum of private favors from lobbyist to politician. The obvious thing to do, then, is to pool together an $18 million kitty and let members of Congress take trips out of public funds instead. There’s a decent case to be made, after all, that these congressional “fact-finding” trips abroad are sometimes valuable, and more often a fun and decent perk to the job.

The better argument, though, is to say: look, members of Congress are going to go travel abroad one way or another; they can either do on the dime of some trade organization or corporation looking for a favorable hearing on some pro-business bill, or they can do it using taxpayer money, which, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t all that much taxpayer money. Which would be a better state of affairs? I, for one, am more than happy to bribe politicians to stop skirting around the bounds of corruption!

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REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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