From CNBC: In politics, symbols are also substance, and the changes range from the large to the small. Mr. Hollande has actually taken the train to Brussels, without a state jet following him, and his ministers have been ordered to hit the rails when possible (with a free pass on the national railway system). When they fly, they are encouraged to travel in coach class on commercial airlines. (Upgrades on Air France [AF-FR 4.027 -0.018 (-0.44%)] are probably a given for ministers, in any case.)
Official cars have been diminished in size and in luxury. Mr. Hollande has given up the presidential Citroën C6 for a smaller but hardly shabby Citroën DS5 diesel hybrid. He has reduced the ranks of his official drivers to two from three, and they are now supposed to stop at red lights. Mr. Ayrault gave up his C6 for a cheaper Peugeot 508. Cabinet ministers have also traded down, and the housing minister, Cécile Duflot, an ecologist who was criticized for wearing jeans to an Élysée Palace meeting, has ordered four official bicycles.
Champagne at receptions has largely been replaced by Muscadet, a considerably cheaper white wine, and prices at the official cafeterias for ministerial employees, always a bargain, have been raised modestly.
Even security has been put to the knife, at least a little. Junior ministers no longer get bodyguards, and the number of security workers attached to the presidency has been reduced by a third.
In the United States, most cabinet secretaries and subordinates and members of Congress think they are entitled to be treated like royalty.
There is no reason why Eric Holder and Janet Napolitano cannot fly commercial like the rest of the cabinet secretaries, unless there is an emergency and members of Congress should be forbidden to use military or government airplanes, unless they are visiting a military base. And is it too much to ask that Michelle and President Obama fly on the same plane if they are going to the same destination, just hours apart. And based on the Secret Service scandal 2 months ago, it seems like President Obama doesn't need that many Secret Service agents on each trip.
And speaking of the Secret Service, why does Timothy Geithner travel with a Secret Service detail? Is he such a terrorist target that he needs more than 1 bodyguard?
Finally, do all cabinet secretaries and lower level staff need all the protection? Why does Harry Reid need 3 security people when he goes out to eat or goes shopping in his 3 large SUVs? That goes for the rest of the congress people from both parties who think they need taxpayer funded security.
But, hey, those elected officials and their minions think they are better than everyone else and they can do whatever they want because after all, they need to feed their egos on taxpayer money.