Thursday, April 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Frankly It Stinks!

Congressional franking costs are a total waste of tax dollars; members of congress ought to stop mailing it in.

Frankly It Stinks!

I caught a little item in last Thursday's New York Times that got my growl going again.

The Times reports that Virginia Democratic Rep. Gerald Connolly was whining about majority-party Republicans editing his taxpayer financed newsletter to constituents in which he attempted to label Republicans as out to "eliminate" Medicare with a "radical plan."

Editors changed the wording to say the GOP wants to "change" Medicare with support from private insurers.

The Harvard grad and former Senate staffer said, "This is like Soviet censorship. It's intolerable. Unbelievable."

What he doesn't say is editing of congressional newsletters is common practice, done by a bipartisan Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards to members of both parties specifically to avoid overtly political slams by anyone using tax dollars for mailing.

I have no argument with Connolly's thoughts on Medicare or Republicans. He's entitled to them.

My argument is with the fact that Congress has what's called a franking privilege (one of many privileges) which means we pay for these junk-mail congressional newsletters. Who wants or needs them?

And even though mailing costs dropped dramatically in recent years, the latest cost analysis by the Congressional Research Service says these mailings cost taxpayers $16.7 million in 2009.

To me that's a boat-load of bucks to pay for something we don't need, want or care about. It's totally unnecessary.

What ought to happen is everybody who gets one of these wastes of time, money and paper should call, email or write their representative and just say, hey, stop mailing it in.

GRRRR!

 

 

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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