Paying for cars and gas for Congress…

Hey, did you know that you pay for the automobile transportation costs for members of Congress?  Perhaps you read about it a couple of weeks ago in the New York Times (May 1, 2008)?  I’m sure you must have heard all about it on the nightly news, right?  No.  Yeah well, the story didn’t get too much play in the mainstream media.  While there has been much focus on how much you are paying at the gas pump, the media stops short of telling you that you are filling up your car and the cars of members of Congress (just House members, not the Senate, which is funny because the House is supposed to be most closely aligned with the citizenry).

Yes, you pay for their gasoline.  You also make the monthly car/lease payments.  You pay for the insurance and tags for them too.  And you pay for the upkeep on the various vehicles.  Did you know that?  Now that you do know, I bet you think that the members of Congress are driving around in the sensible Ford Focus.  But no.  Here is a sample of what they are driving and you are paying for:

Charles B. Rangel, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, leases a 2004 Cadillac DeVille for $777.54 a month; the car is 17 feet long with a 300-horsepower engine and seats five comfortably.

Rep. Michael R. McNulty, a Democrat from the Albany area, gets around in a 2007 Mercury Mariner hybrid, a sport utility vehicle, for $816 a month.

Rep. Edolphus Towns, a Brooklyn Democrat, said he had begun to take fuel economy into consideration and recently traded in his 2005 Lincoln Town Car (at $845 a month) for a 2008 Lincoln MKX, called a crossover utility vehicle, (at $715 a month). 

Rep. Jim Saxton, a Republican of New Jersey, leases a 2004 Chevy TrailBlazer at what he views as a reasonable $310 a month.

Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, a Queens Democrat, who leases a 2007 Lexus LS 460 at $998 a month.

Here in the Renovations household, we have one car, a 2004 Chevy Equinox, that has a monthly payment much higher than we would have liked, but we needed the All Wheel Drive and wanted the heated leather seats.  We made a choice, but since we were spending our own money, we felt we could justify the upgrades.  However, if you were paying for our car, we probably would have gotten one of those little Kia sedans.  See how that works? 

As I said, we have just the one car even though we are two driving adults.  We made the choice to be a one car family.  Even if we can afford to buy a second car, we really can’t afford to insure it, maintain it and fill it up with gasoline.  We go pretty much everywhere together and in the past ten yearsthere have only been a handful of times when two cars would have been advantageous.  But if you were footing the bill, I probably would go get a second car.  And if you didn’t put up much fuss, I would totally get a Lexus.



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