Mike Pence spent his holiday in Aspen, where the extremely wealthy vacation, right after passing huge tax cuts for billionaires. His presence also ruined a crucial holiday income period for a small business.
Days after helping to shepherd through a tax bill loaded with benefits and giveaways to the ultra-wealthy, Mike Pence spent the holiday amongst the well-heeled who stand to benefit from the legislation.
But he also helped to kill holiday business for a struggling small business.
In direct contrast to their purported support for the average American, both Pence and Donald Trump spent the winter holidays in the vicinity of extreme wealth. Trump, at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, and Pence, who stayed in the Aspen area of Colorado.
Pence has been holed up in a residence in Snowmass Village, a winter resort location that is part of the larger Aspen region. For years, Aspen has come to be synonymous with wealthy winter vacationers who flock to the region for its premiere skiing facilities.
Vanity Fair, which often chronicles the lifestyles of the rich and idle, noted the area’s “eye-popping wealth” in a feature on the A-listers who flock there to rub shoulders with each other.
At least 50 of the world’s 1,600 billionaires have stakes in the Aspen area, mostly through real estate they own there. That includes Charles and David Koch, the billionaire right-wing industrialists and polluters who bankroll so much of the right. The Kochs, of course, are close allies of Pence, and he has met with them to steer policies that would disproportionately benefit their bank accounts.
But while hobnobbing with the jet set after negotiating a tax cut for them (while raising taxes on the middle class), Pence also hurt small business during his trip.
Above It All Balloon Co. had the misfortune of being located in the same area where Pence chose to holiday. Thanks to the flight restrictions imposed to keep Pence and his family safe, the hot air balloon company said it lost between $15,000 and $20,000 in business.
Pam Wood, who owns the company with her husband Bruce, told the Aspen Times, “I understand the security aspect but let the little wheels on the track make a living so the rest can roll.”
Not only did the company lose money, but so did its employees, who rely on the tips from the balloon rides to supplement their holiday income.
The company had to cancel the reservations that clients had made to go up in their balloons over the holiday. The cancellations came during the company’s busiest week of the winter.
The whole trip was a version, in miniature, of the Trump-Pence priorities: frolicking amongst the rich and famous, while actively hurting the little guy and the small businesses underneath their noses. Despite his efforts at distance, Pence shows on a regular basis that he is directly complicit in enabling the Trump world view.
Even from his wealthy wintertime hideaway.