The Conversation

The Army of Debt marches again

Punditspace bubbles with a mixture of horror and hysterical laughter as Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, head of the DNC, wails that the army of aides and staffers serving Congress might just starve because sequestration leaves them unable to afford a good meal:

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said Congress has had to reduce constituent services because of the sequester. “We’re really starting to see the effects of that in our office,” she said.

The cuts have also affected the quality of life for congressional aides, said Wasserman Schultz, whose defense of Capitol Hill staffers amid budget cuts has won her unofficial den mother status among many. At the hearing, for example, she said prices of meals in House restaurants are getting so high that aides are being “priced out” of a good meal.

And, she added, the cuts demanded by House leaders over the past three years have lessened the attractiveness of Hill jobs. “The more we rob Peter to pay Paul,” she said, “the tougher it is for us to compete not only with the private sector but with other federal agencies.”

My first thought upon hearing this (after laughing at the thought of six-figure congressional aides finding themselves unable to afford a sandwich at nearby cafes) was of Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who has voluntarily trimmed his own office budget by over half a million dollars in each of the last two years, and returned the money to the Treasury.  No one on Paul's staff appears to be starving.

But I have to warn everyone that DWS is just field-testing the low-wattage version of a complaint you will hear a lot, the next time fiscal conservatives have a real chance of imposing a spending cut.  They haven't been spending all that seized and borrowed money on things in Washington; they've been hiring people.  And every one of those people will become a hostage against spending cuts.

Speaking of Senator Paul, his new budget proposal balances the federal budget in 5 years, and eliminates four departments - Energy, Education, HUD, and Commerce.  If there is even the slightest threat of such a budget passing, the very first thing you will hear - from the same damned people who couldn't care less about the private-sector jobs annihilated by EPA over-reach or ObamaCare - is that it would cause unemployment to spike, by dumping all those agency employees into the bread lines.


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