strong>By Paul Richardson
It’s a license to steal, or at least, a license to get rich while enjoying a lifestyle of luxury and a free ride. I’m speaking about the offices of Congress. I’ve said before, in addition to a base salary of $180,000 per year (for only a maximum of four months work each year) everything is furnished. They have no out of pocket expenses of their own except for their fantasizes, indulgencies, and hobbies. Everything needed to live a life of luxury is provided free of charge.
The Congressional gravy train includes free plane rides on any government air craft to anywhere in the world, free office space, free furnishings, including an office refrigerator and microwave, salaries for all personnel and hired help, free utilities, haircuts, manicures, shoe shines, safe and secure free underground parking, underground shuttle service to and from the car to the office and back, free medical, a guaranteed annual retirement fund equaling their yearly salary, free postage, armed body guards, even free paper for the copy machine.
But it’s not quite an unlimited paper supply. Each office is annually allocated one and a half pages of paper per adult resident in their district. An example, Illinois Congressional members receive six times as much (11.6 million sheets) per year as West Virginia’s (1.87 million.)
How do we know?
It’s classified information from a top secret 370 Congressional guide book each Capitol Hill office goes by. Until reently, no one knew of the book’s existence. The Library of Congress does not even have a copy.
But thanks to USA Today and the Freedom of Information Act, it is now public knowledge (and Congress has egg on its face.) Currently, USA Today has the 370 page manual posted on its website.
And here’s the kicker. According to the classified book, each office receives an annual budget of $4 million dollars (tax payer money) to use as they see fit (to pay for all the operating expenses mentioned above. Apparently secretaries and errand boys don’t come cheap)
The only stipulation to spending that truck load of free money is, it cannot be used on alcohol, flowers, gifts, or salaries for relatives. (Notice it does not say anything about girlfriends.) But even charted boats and Limousine service is acceptable. So are meals and travel.
Of course we all know without saying that our illustrious Congressmen and women would never stoop so low as to break the rules, don’t we? And don’t you suppose, it’s also probably very hard for them to squeak by on such a small amount each year. And we are also positive nothing goes into their own pockets, aren’t we?
But seriously, any money left over at the end of the year is not returned or audited, so no wonder some of them enter office as a deadbeat bum but leave a multi millionaire.
So why hasn’t the public known all the juicy little facts of daily Capitol Hill life before now?
According to a spokesperson, to reveal the contents of the book “would be releasing sensitive security information.”
All this brings to mind the 28th Amendment to the Constitution, “Congress shall make no law that applies to Congress that does not also apply to the public. And Congress shall make no law that applies to the public that does not also apply to Congress.”
I’m no expert, but I am certain a law had to be passed somewhere at some time to authorize that enormous annual expense account. So where is mine and yours?