Obama poll fund must pick up tab for his political trips: RNC
REPUBLICANS are complaining to a US government watchdog that President Barack Obama’s trips for official business are little more than campaign stops funded with taxpayer dollars, a claim dismissed by the White House and Obama’s campaign team.
In a letter on Wednesday to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) comptroller general requesting a formal inquiry, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus alleged a “misuse of government funds” relating to certain presidential travel, especially to November battleground states.
“One incident of this might be an error that is easily remedied. But it is a pattern of behaviour that is worsening,” Priebus said.
The complaint noted that government watchdogs, like the GAO, should be sensitive to any spending practices that might raise questions, and more so now with a travel scandal engulfing the General Services Administration (GSA). Priebus underscored Obama appearances on college campuses this week in key states of Colorado and North Carolina meant to support student loan legislation that were “widely reported to be equivalent to campaign rallies.” Republicans also noted a string of fundraisers in Florida two weeks ago that included one short official event to plug the proposed Buffett tax rule on the wealthy.
“This speech was high on class warfare, slogans and divisive campaign-style rhetoric,” Priebus complained.
The White House noted that presidential travel has always been magnified during election years. Previous presidents from both parties fended off similar complaints about certain travel that critics contended should have been paid for with campaign funds. White House spokesman Eric Schultz noted that Obama’s travel this week was part of his “official responsibility to get outside of Washington” and address issues personally with the public.
“When there is political travel, we follow all rules and regulations that all other administrations have followed,” Schultz said.
The Obama campaign also dismissed the assertion. “We are not going to get hot and bothered by RNC stunts,” senior Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod told reporters on a conference call.
Meanwhile, the White House has said day that it is reviewing whether a small business tax loophole should be closed to pay for an extension of low interest rates on student loans that President Barack Obama wants Congress to deliver.
The loophole allows some shareholder-employees of socalled “S corporations” to avoid paying the Medicare payroll tax on their earnings.
“We’ve certainly been in discussions with senators about that - that is certainly an option that is a good potential option,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney travelling with Obama. “It meets the standard we set that we cannot pay for it in a way that harms students.” Obama was heading to North Carolina on the first leg of a tour of three battleground election states in which he will urge Congress to stop interest rates from rising on 7.4 million students.
The action could appeal to middle class and younger voters vital to his hopes for reelection in November.
Carney said that closing the tax loophole was among a variety of potential ways to pay for the estimated $6 billion cost of a one-year extension of the loan rates, which otherwise will double on July 1 to 6.8 percent.