Saturday, November 28, 2015

That Confounded Congress

Washington is playing games with health care because it can and because it only cares about it's own political games.

That Confounded Congress


Been to Washington lately?

I have. There's no evidence of a recession or a turndown or whatever you want to call the economy that has so many Americans jobless or wallowing in wage stagnation.

In Washington, the monuments and museums are open and clean and the place is packed with high-end restaurants and arts and open space, much of which is built, maintained and fueled by money from taxpayers who never see it.

Know why?

Because the Congress and your government lives there and makes sure the living is easy.

And because the living is easy, Congress remains out of touch and does what it wants.

Wednesday, for example, the House was to vote to repeal the health-care law recently upheld by the Supreme Court.

Republican leaders are spending the time, effort and cost to vote on a measure that has no chance of passing the Senate and one, that even if it did, the President promises to veto.

Last year, the Congressional Research Service put the price of "floor costs," meaning just the operation of the House floor when in session, at $53,534 a-day, or a decent income for someone without a job.

That cost, the report said, is extremely conservative, because it does not include “leadership and member salaries, member and committee staff salaries, staff employment benefits, utilities, Architect of the Capitol support staff, and (substantial) costs associated with the media galleries.”

The base pay for each of the 535 members of Congress is $174,000. Leaders get much more.

And so this week they're "earning" that pay debating a law already declared constitutional.

Why? Not because there are no other problems to work on -- job-creation, infrastructure, tax policy, etc. --but because forcing votes on controversial issues presents opportunities to play politics.

The most recent congressional approval rating is 18 percent. That's what you think of Congress. This week, Congress is showing what it thinks of you.


Daily News Political Columnist
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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

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

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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