Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Praeter Nos, Nimirum

That should be the official motto of the entire Congress. "Except For Us, Of Course," in Latin. Perhaps it would look best engraved into a 24 carat gold seal and then reproduced as diamond studded platinum lapel pins for each member of Congress. As a show of their serious concern over spending of course.

I wax sarcastic because I just spent more than a little time trying to find Congress' own budget online somewhere. I couldn't find it, which is not all that surprising, given their commitment to transparency and all, but I did find some intriguing numbers.

Let's start with how much these clowns earn annually. The base salary for a freshly purchased Member of Congress is $174,000. For which they work an average of 3.5 (three and one-half!) days a week for about 6 hours a day with a minimum of 12 weeks paid vacation and unlimited sick time. That does not include almost unlimited expenses and benefits that most of us will never see or imagine. Like free postage. The "leadership" does even better for themselves, adding anywhere between $20K and $50K to that base. Committee chairs get a little boost in the paycheck, too.

So, figuring 535 members at base salary plus the add ons for the various leaders and chairs gives us a total cost for these fairly poor employees to We the People of around $94 million. Figure the same or a little more in expenses and let's call it $200 million.

Congressional staff is not cheap. And the largesse there is truly bipartisan. Here is what some of them spent on staff in 2009. Most of this info is from LegiStorm.

The false queen, Nancy Pelosi spent $1.13 million on her staff. This does not include some of the permanent Speaker's staff.

Famed budget and tax cutter Eric Cantor spent $1.12 million. Yep, within a rounding error of Pelosi.

House Minority Leader John Boehner spent just under an even $1 million. By Congressional standards, this is cheap.

Renowned and unrepentant tax and spend maestro Henry Waxman spent $1.3 million topping even Pelosi.

On the Senate side, where everything costs more, just like at the Neiman end of the mall, Majority Leader Harry Reid spent $2.27 million.

Minority Leader and self proclaimed budget balancing spending cutter Mitch McConnell spent $2.5 million.

Just for fun, I looked up Obama's 2007 (has last full year in the Senate) staff expenditure and he spent a whopping $3 million. No surprise there. I think we all know about the president and spending other people's money.

So, 435 House staffs at around $800K per (average) and 100 Senate at $2 million per (average) gives us about $550 million.

We are already at three-fourths of a billion dollars and we have not even counted standing staff, maintenance on the Capitol and office buildings, printing (2,000 page bills cost real money to reproduce in accordance with the Rules), Capitol Hill Police, office space (district offices cost rent), furniture and supplies and the rest. It would not surprise me to learn that it costs us over $3 billion per year for Congress. And that is a huge waste.

$3 billion so that they have a sandbox in which to have their petty partisan squabbles. $3 billion per year so they have back rooms in which to make the dead of night deals that end up costing us in money, freedoms or both.

The Democrat-Republican partisan chokehold on the Congress has rendered it useless and ineffective. It does not matter which party is in charge. In 2006 (the last year Republicans had control) Cantor spent a million dollars on staff. To add insult to the injury of a useless Congress is that they are deficit spending not only on stuff that we know about, but a lot of it on themselves.

The tired, corrupt 2 party system that controls the Congress makes sure that members of Congress are well taken care of. In fact, they have it set up so that they get an annual pay raise unless they vote not to. Yep, you read it right. The pay raise is automatic for Congress (and therefore staff) unless they actively vote no. To get the raise all they need to do is nothing.

Of course, nothing is what they do best. Come November, we can cut the cost of this huge waste of our resources by voting the whole lot of them out. They are not looking out for us, not interested in us and sure as heck not listening to us. So let's do the only thing we can - vote them away. They will have to hear that.

Praeter Nos, Nimirum indeed.

As a capitalist and a free thinking person, I am selling them for both profit and with the intent of donating to those candidates that are willing to step outside the parties and declare a concern for the Constitution and the people.

You can order them here:

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