The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

The Emperor's New Clothes?

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


President Obama and his minions have been wringing their hands and warning us that the nation will face catastrophic hardships as the sequester is implemented.  You will recall the sequester is the automatic spending cut signed into law in 2011 in exchange for raising the debt ceiling so the nation could borrow more money to pay its bills. But hypocrisy abounds throughout the administration as questionable expenditure after questionable expenditure after questionable expenditure gets exposed while the White House shuts down its tours to visitors and threatens furloughs across the various government agencies. Ralph Reiland, an associate professor of economics at the Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, points out another absurdity in a recent column in Investor’s Business Daily.  While Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano threatens to furlough thousands of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guards that will supposedly cause long lines at airports, it seems the TSA is ready and able to spend $50 million on new uniforms. That’s right.  Two days before the sequester began, the TSA announced it has just awarded a $50 million one-year contract to purchase uniforms for airport screeners.  And, because TSA screeners had recently become unionized, they were able to ratify their first contract, which includes having “more say in what they wear on the job.”  Whew...what a relief to hear that good news with all the doom and gloom going on! The lucky contract winner is VF Imagewear, which owns the Lee Brand and Wrangler Hero.  What does the TSA get for the $1,000 cost per employee?  Well, their initial uniform set is “3 long-sleeved shirts, 3 short-sleeved shirts, 2 pairs of trousers, 2 ties, and one belt, sweater, socks, and jacket.”  But Reiland went on line to check what Wrangler charges for each item and found that the “Hero cargo pants are $19.50, a Hero jacket is $19.99, Hero shirts are $10.99.”  He added up the costs of a belt, socks, trousers, shirts, and so on and came up with a total price of $186 for the set, some $814 less than what the government (taxpayers) is paying.  Some of the uniform will be manufactured in Mexico, which is pretty ironic for an administration that constantly yaps about bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. Reiland reminds us that Secretary Napolitano has asked the traveling public not to yell at TSA screeners when the airport lines get long because of furloughed employees.  After all, “They aren't responsible for sequester,” she said.  But we can agree with Reiland that, “at $1,000 a pop, they’re looking real snazzy.”

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