On a Congressional Budget

The 114th US Congress (435 Representatives and 100 Senators) is now in session. With Republicans controlling both chambers, it will be interesting to see how their relationship with a Democratic president unfolds.

Republicans love to champion a decrease in spending – of course, they do so while protecting their sacred cows and attacking the Democratic sacred cows. To me, one way the Republicans can legitimize decreased spending and promote their smaller government mantra (plus gain favor with the public) is by significant decreasing funding of their own operation – the budget for operating Congress. (I know, fat chance of that.)

For those that don’t know, the cost of operating Congress is about $1.7 billion per year. In the chart below, I examine salaries, staffing, and office expenses for each office and the Congressional committees.

Note: For the ease of understanding and calculations, I rounded figures

Note: For the ease of understanding and calculations, I rounded figures

The savings represent over $54,000,000. On the other hand, it’s only 3% of the Congressional operating budget. Nonetheless, it’s a start, which means there is more room to cut even more.

Hey Congress, when you are done looking at yourself, reforming the procurement process can deliver mega-savings – but I know, you won’t do that either. OK – back to your sacred cows.

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46 thoughts on “On a Congressional Budget

  1. Good plan, Frank, by which it stands the proverbial snowball’s chance …

    I hate the budget time. When I worked in DC, the President would release his budget, usually on a Thursday. I had to get it before anyone else, analyze it, and write client memos for any section that would impact any of our clients. By Monday. Such fun. And none of it mattered — the President’s budget was DOA.

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  2. Most of these elected officials in government are millionaires, Frank. The fat cat’s salary should be reduced to one token dollar. The swells should also pay for at least a portion of their own health insurance like us, the voters, and when their term ends, so does the perk of free health insurance. I might be mistaken, but I thought that elected officials have health insurance for life. It infuriates me knowing that I paid for draft dodger Dick Cheney’s heart transplant.

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  3. I cannot believe they spend so much on themselves…. but then why are they there? Just for the money and the money that backs them… to you all they show a finger and don’t give a hoot about you….. same here….

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    • Bulldog,
      The size of their staff surprised me, but staff salaries shocked me! I’ve got the feeling the characteristics of politicians is common throughout the world. I’d toss the quest for power into the equation. In a speech I heard, a former astronaut/senator said something I’ve never forgotten – If an elected official went to Washington and did what was right, they wouldn’t get re-elected.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Agreed, reductions in Congress’ operating budget would be highly desirable, but I submit that it would be mostly symbolic. Why? Because most of the money Congress deals with is in billions, not millions. The 50 million in savings you propose is a mere 5% of one billion dollars.

    A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money. – Everett Dirksen (attributed)

    Alas, Dirksen’s disparagement has come true. And he was a Republican! The GOP talks the talk, but they don’t walk the walk.

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    • Jim,
      Symbolic indeed, but starting here could get the public’s attention. I know these suggestions are small … (as stated) only 3% of the budget to operate Congress, and a grain of sand in the government’s budget … but its a start and it fits the GOP’s smaller government narrative. I can’t even imagine how much could be saved by forming procurement!

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      • Agreed, Frank, symbolism is a worthy pursuit. But of course the budgetary problem has deep roots tied to “special interests”. In my 22-year military career I often marveled at how misplaced and inefficient the DOD budget was. The industrial complex regularly, then as now, churned out materiel that wasn’t needed. Indeed, it was often even flawed – the Bell/Boeing V-22 Osprey program being a good example. It was a flawed concept and accident-prone design and was enormously costly, but it just wouldn’t die. The reason: jobs and cash flow to the big suppliers, pure and simple. It’s much easier to cut food stamps and unemployment benefits than big programs because the poor don’t have lobbyists and the excuse is a ready one. If you’re poor, it must be your fault.

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        • Your points are well noted, and there are countless examples not only in the military, but in other budget item. However, the focus of this post was a few items in the budget operating Congress itself – to which there are not buts.

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  5. Very cool that you took the time to research this and make recommendations, Frank. I’m sure it took some time to sort through. I think you should send it in the form of an open letter to a national newspaper. Would love to see Congress act on these recommendations. Hey, a gal can dream, can’t she?

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  6. Nickles and dimes. How about making them pay for their heath care and chip in for their own security detail? Or make them pay Social Security taxes on everything they make? Or getting rid of all those nice little tax shelters for the rich who have the luxury of sheltering their money rather than having to spend it all of stuff like mortgages and food? Can I stop now?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tim,
      Although one could make the case that given their lack of productivity, why not less? But, my point is simple, much of America has gone through downsizing in order to saving money/streamline operations – and Congress is no different! It’s time to cut the overhead, so this is a personal challenge to Republicans to decrease spending on themselves and make government smaller.

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  7. Great post. (Same old tunes already coming from DC….they are so removed from the average person)
    Wish they would make it mandatory that any elected official/legislator/anyone employed by the federal gov. must be current on their IRS taxes – or at least on a payment plan…treat them like ordinary citizens.
    And cut out all the meetings/conferences in resorts – hold them in their offices/public buildings
    And how about doing that cool work from home thing with skype or computer conferences instead of all the congressmen and women traveling,eating, renting places to stay in DC? They are always talking about being ahead of the curve with technology….maybe more real people could afford/be willing to run for congress if they could work from home?
    Less is more! Good job, Frank

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    • Mouse,
      Glad you enjoyed this one. I have a couple of points for you.

      To me, being in office means an IRS audit every two years … for instance Reps in odd years, senators even and yes, increase the IRS budget to meet that need.

      Regarding retreats. Both parties just had one … a biggie … GOP in Hershey, PA … I believe the Dems in Baltimore .. however, my sources indicate these were paid for by the party and party campaign coffers – thus not by taxpayers.

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    • Resa,
      Well … I’m sure the public record exists for Canada. For me, the budget info wasn’t that hard to find … combing through it wasn’t bad because I knew what I was looking for … such as number of staff per elected official salaries, etc … I stumbled across the committee information, which was a wonderful fit.

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    • Raye,
      It’s tempting, but both my cynicism and state-out-of-the-limelight style go against that. Then again, it’s easy to make points in the form of the question … and in this case, questions.

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