Given the veracity of the birthers, death panel touters and “you lie” screamers, it’s easy to be skeptical of many right wing criticisms of President Obama. But a new report has even the most loyal Obama supporters raising an eyebrow.
In an article for The Center for Public Integrity featured in The Huffington Post, reporter Joe Eaton writes that the number of new limousines added to the government fleet has increased 73% under the Obama administration.
According to General Services Administration data , the number of limousines in the federal fleet increased from 238 in fiscal 2008, the last year of the George W. Bush administration, to 412 in 2010. Much of the 73 percent increase—111 of the 174 additional limos—took place in fiscal 2009, more than eight months of which corresponded with Obama’s first year in office. However, some of those purchases could reflect requests made by the Bush administration during an appropriations process that would have begun in the spring of 2008.
While the GSA’s numbers suggest a spike in limo purchasing, the numbers are not set in stone. A spokeswoman for the agency said the term “limousine” is not defined as the categories in the agencies’ Fleet Report are “overly broad” and that “vehicles represented as limousines can range from protective duty vehicles to sedans.”
The majority of the increases in the government’s limo fleet is being attributed to the State Department. Since 2008, the Department gained 194 new limos, bring the Department’s total to 259. While the GSA’s office has no official definition, the State Department defined a limousine as a vehicle that carries a VIP or “other protectee.”
The vehicles of choice for the State Department are Cadillac DTSs, which Eaton says cost $60,000 for a 2011 base model and support the additional weight of armoring. The State Department also purchased a limited number of 7-series BMWs for diplomatic staff living in countries where vehicles are right-hand drive.
While the report certainly seems at odd with the Obama administration’s message of responsible spending, many say the Center for Public Intergrity is not unbiased in its report. The group though centered around investigative journalism has been referred to by both The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times as “liberal.”
However, regardless of the politics behind the report, there are some numbers that are hard to argue with. According to the Government Accountability Office’s report to Congress, the federal government $1.9 billion on new vehicles in 2009 alone.
What’s your take on the increase of the limo fleet under the Obama Administration? Is the Center for Public Integrity’s report unsupported criticism? Is Washington spending out of control? Tell us what you think Clutchettes and gents- weigh in and share your thoughts!