On Insanity

Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted for the 33 time to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  (If the Republicans call the ACA Obamacare, do they call the Massachusetts law it was based on Mittmanagement?  Nah…it was outsourced…).  There is an old saw that says the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.  Well, no one ever said our representatives were sane…

I can understand why the Party of No wants to repeal the law. They feel that health care is a privilege, not a right, and therefore it should only be available to those that can afford the privilege and as for the rest, it is natural selection…er…the creator’s choice.  Fair enough, but how do you feel about fraud, waste, and abuse?

Have I got your attention yet?  I am serious.  If the vote to repeal the ACA only took 10 minutes, from introduction to total count of votes, that means Congress has wasted 330 minutes of time.  That translates to five and a half hours of Congressional time, essentially one complete day.  And they do not work that many days to begin with.  But let me put it in more economic terms.  Each member of Congress, House and Senate, earns a minimum of $174,000 year.  That is $83 an hour, based on a normal work year of 2080 hours (and we all know Congress does not work normal hours.  Feel free to argue the number to yourselves).  At $83/hr, that is $456.50 per member of the House.  There are currently 435 voting members of the House, which means these symbolic votes have cost the American tax payer $198, 577.50.  Or a little more than the annual salary of one member of Congress, and certainly more than the annual salary of many Americans…in fact, it is a little more than 4 years of salary based on the median household income statistics from 2011.  Let me say that again.  The symbolic vote cost the American Tax payer 4 years of their salary.

Now, that is the conservative estimate.  We all know there was debate, and discussion.  There were photocopies and staff time.  The number does not begin to consider tertiary costs either.  For example the cost of running the Capitol – heat, light, air conditioning, etc.  If we bump the time to 30 minutes, which is reasonable for introduction, discussion and vote, we are talking about a little more than 16 total hours and a cost just under a half a million dollars.  To attempt to repeal a law that has no chance of currently being repealed.  If that is not insanity, then it is certainly fraud, waste, and abuse of the American Tax Payer.

But more to the point, what else could the Congress be doing?  Well, if you have been paying attention, quite a bit.  Yet they seem to have decided not to.  For example, the Congress waited until the 11th hour to renew a jobs bill that funded infrastructure.  If they had not been busy wasting time trying to repeal a law that had no chance of being repealed, they could have passed the reauthorization and keep people from worrying whether they would have a job the following morning.  Or, how about the upcoming Sequestration?  Conservative estimates indicate that as of Fiscal Year 2013, which begins October 1, 2012, a month before the election, more than one million defense jobs could be lost if Congress does not step in and do something.  Let me stress these million jobs are at the primary level.  It does not count the supply chains, or tertiary jobs losses.  The loss of a million jobs will be more than have been lost since the financial melt down in 2007 and could rival the Great Depression if it comes to pass.  But Congress was too busy to worry about that.  Sure they jobbed out a letter to a few defense contractors, but they were more concerned about repealing ACA.  After all, that is what was important.

When the candidates come knocking for reelection this year, ask them what they did during their time in Washington.  And if they said, I voted to repeal Obamacare, ask them why?  And then ask them, why they were not doing more for their constituency.  Failing that, perhaps suggest a good therapist.  Because clearly this form of insanity is contagious and needs to be curtailed.

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  1. Pingback: Congress Has One Job | Musings from the Back Room

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