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Now Departing On Runway 26, $500 Million Of Your Money

If there is one thing everybody has learned from the past year or so it's that the first lesson in financial crisis etiquette is do not buy, use, look at, or even think about corporate jets. A brief flashback to January finds Sen. Carl Levin on the verge of spontaneous combustion from his fury at Citigroup's plan to buy a $50 million jet to let Vikula travel in style.

"The notion of Citigroup spending $50 million on a new corporate jet, even as it is depending on billions of taxpayer dollars to survive, does not fly... I have urged [Treasury Secretary] Tim Geithner . . . to do what he can to stop this absurdity"

Well Senator, it might be time for someone to talk to TG again. As part of its belt-tightening efforts, Congress is planning to spend just over half a billion dollars to buy 8 jets to ensure all those diplomatic missions to the Galapagos are done in greater comfort.

The original shopping list called for one Gulfstream V (retail price: $66 million) and one business class only Boeing 737 ($70 million) for the Pentagon and two more 737s for the Defense Department. However, by harnessing the power of Congressional math, the House figured that by adding funds to buy 2 additional Gulfstreams and 2 more 737s, it could improve on its average cost per airplane and actually save taxpayers some money. But surely there must be something other than cost effectiveness that led the House to double up on the number of planes sought.

Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said the Department of Defense didn't request the additional planes and doesn't need them. "We ask for what we need and only what we need," he told reporters Wednesday. "We've always frowned upon earmarks and additives that are above and beyond what we ask for."

Carl Levin, the Treasury Secretary will be expecting your call.
Congress Gets an Upgrade [WSJ]