- The Washington Times - Monday, October 14, 2013

Joe Biden has been brought back early from his taxpayer-funded vacation at Camp David to participate in President Obama’s meeting Monday afternoon with congressional leaders over the government shutdown and debt ceiling limit.

In past budget fights like 2011, Mr. Biden has been a key negotiator since he has strong relationships on Capitol Hill from his many years as a Democratic senator from Delaware. This time, he has been so obviously MIA that Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, said on CBS on Sunday that, “We need to get Joe Biden out of the witness protection program.” 

Mr. Biden, who wants to run for president in 2016, is either not interested in the crisis in Washington or so unhelpful he disappeared to Camp David for the three-day Columbus Day break with no official events on his schedule.

Under criticism, the vice president’s schedule suddenly changed on Monday with his reappearance for the bicameral, bipartisan 3 p.m. meeting.

While Mr. Obama and congressional leaders battled it out over spending and Obamacare, Mr. Biden’s last public event was a meeting on Thursday with Finance Minister Yair Lapid of Israel on topics such as the economy of Israel and negotiations with the Palestinians. 

While veterans are blocked from visiting the open-air World War II Memorial because of the budgeting decision by the White House, Mr. Biden and his family have had no such constraints. The chi-chi Camp David compound is primarily run by the Navy and Marine Corps, so it has remained open during the two weeks that civilian federal employees have been furloughed. 

While chilling at Camp David, the Biden family could have chosen from leisure activities like bowling, swimming, golfing and skeet shooting — which the president claims to do “all the time” when he’s there. 

If Mr. Biden wants to take over the Oval Office in 2016, he should have a vital role in negotiating the size and scope of the federal government in the budget battles. 

At the very least, the vice president should show some restraint in exploiting taxpayer resources at time when others cannot. Even Mr. Obama has enough public relations savvy to skip his standing golf games for the two weekends since the shutdown began. 

Emily Miller is a senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times and author of “Emily Gets Her Gun” (Regnery, 2013).

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