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The breakfast police

September 24, 2011 - Jim Anderson
Politics and economics are complicated, but the cost of a muffin is simple.

Or maybe not.

Earlier this week, initial reports from an audit of a Justice Department conference revealed that the government paid $16 apiece for breakfast muffins.

The talking heads hit it out of park.

“I'm as outraged as anyone at the waste in the government, but what do we expect?” said John Stossel. “Government wastes money and hides behind rules and regulations because there is no market to hold jillions of government workers accountable.”

“President Obama wants more tax money to buy more muffins,” said Bill O’Reilly, deriding a federal government “that doesn’t give a hoot about how much money it spends.”

And so on.

The Obama administration, in turn, ordered a review.

It’s since been learned that the $16 price was for a full continental breakfast, including fruit, beverages, tax and tip.

This was at a Hilton hotel in Washington, which provided a 450-seat room for the conference and more than a dozen breakout rooms.

OK, the government could surely have gotten a better deal at Rodeway Inn.

Or maybe the conference wasn’t necessary at all.

Unfortunately, debates like that aren’t nearly as much fun as going bananas over $16 muffins.

It will be interesting to hear the numerous, prominent clarifications from the talking heads in the days ahead.

Or maybe not.

UPDATE: Politifact took a look at O’Reilly's repeated claims about the $16 muffins and rated them "mostly false." O’Reilly didn't respond to Politifact's request for comment.



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