Home Donald Trump Gym Memberships vs. Security Detail @EPA: Tiny Example of #TeamTrump’s Horrid Governance

Gym Memberships vs. Security Detail @EPA: Tiny Example of #TeamTrump’s Horrid Governance


While the GOP drives forward with plans to kill Americans, weaken national security, make the economy less efficient, worsen economic disparity, and … (that is just with Mitch McConnell’s (even more) horrific (than the Paul Ryan’s) Trump (could) Care (less about Americans), Team Trump is racking up — every single day — examples of bad governance, immorality, and corruption that would, in normal times, each be notable scandals themselves.  It is essentially impossible to keep up with the Trump Kakistocracy*, all of the outrages large and small … here is an example of one of those ‘small’ from Scott Pruitt’s Entitling Polluter’s Advocates formerly known as the Environmental Protection Agency.

In last week’s ‘weekly roundup’, Pruitt’s PR team gleefully shared out

CNN reports that the EPA has ended the taxpayer subsidy for gym memberships for employees. “The Trump administration is ending a program which subsidizes gym memberships for Environmental Protection Agency employees.”

Additionally, the Washington Free Beacon reports that this move will save taxpayers $1 million. “The Environmental Protection Agency has ended a nearly $1 million program that provided gym memberships for employees. The new administration under EPA administrator Scott Pruitt identified the gym memberships as an abuse of taxpayer dollars. Examples of the program’s misuse included $15,000 for gym memberships for 37 EPA scientists in Las Vegas last year.”

Like attacking ‘regulations’ or other soundbite material, asserting “abuse of taxpayer dollars” that the government would pay for gym memberships just sounds so great.  Let’s put aside all the government gyms out there (including, by the way, throughout the military, in Congress and at the EPA headquarter’s building), there is a basic reality out there: employers pay for gyms (for ‘wellness centers’) out of self-interest.

Does it make sense for me to pay for gym memberships for my employees?

The answer is an unequivocal yes. Many times, small businesses think this is an extra perk they cannot afford, but a little bit goes a long way. Company wellness programs are an investment in the company’s most valuable asset, its employees. It’s a win-win for both parties …

Just how do ‘businesses’ benefit?

Healthy employees are less likely to quit. Numerous studies show wellness plans not only reduce illness, injury and healthcare costs, but also increase productivity and boost morale. Better employee retention means less money spent on recruitment. Some employers have reported a 90-percent decrease in turnover among program-enrolled employees.

Healthy employees use fewer sick days. … Employees enrolled in a company wellness program can reduce healthcare expenditures and absenteeism costs by 25 to 30 percent.

Company wellness programs have a proven ROI. Multiple studies have demonstrated that wellness programs produce positive returns on investments. A … $1 investment in a wellness programs saves $3 in healthcare costs. Another… study … saved an average of $650 per employee each year.

So, Polluting Pruitt has gone after $1M in EPA subsidies for gym memberships — that might actually end up costing the taxpayer $3M or more in otherwise avoidable costs.

As to “Examples of the program’s misuse included $15,000 for gym memberships for 37 EPA scientists in Las Vegas last year”, perhaps the $15k sounds bad (great misleading sound bytes work …) but let’s break it down.

  • $15k/year =
  • $1250/month for 37 employees =
  • $33.78 per employee per month

Truly, spending $33.78 per employee per month is “misuse”?  If, on average, employee productivity (whether through feeling better being more productive on the job or reduced sick leave or …), went up one hour per month (a fraction of what is seen via gym memberships), the taxpayer is ahead of the game.

This is tiny just $1 million when Team Trump’s transgressions will kill 10,000s / year (just through those driven off insurance rolls let alone other things like that pesky climate change) and cost us (the US) $trillions in the years to come. While miniscule, this appears to be a great example of the GOP’s and Team Trump’s attack on good governance.

  • Shallow sound byte
    • — appealing to those who don’t scratch the surface
  • Policy action counter to good management practices
  • Attacking federal employees
  • Diverts attention from other less palatable actions
    • and truly disastrous policy

Oh, by the way, while the Scott Pruitt’s EPA crows about cutting gym memberships, cuts programs that protect American lives, acts to undermine science,  and undertakes action to promote polluters, Pruitt has expanded security (24/7 security detail) that likely will cost 5-10x the supposed savings from gym memberships.


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