Vanity Fair has the relevant data:
It would seem that in an era of Fiscal Responsibility™, a performative rendition of the Constitution might have been one such eliminated endeavor. For an estimate on just how much the Republicans would have saved if they had decided against the tedious exercise, VF Daily checked with Peter Keating, the co-author of “The Cost of No” and VF.com’s resident expert on Congressional wastefulness.
“The amount I get is nearly $1.1 million. $1,071,872.87, to be exact, though of course this is more back-of-the-envelope than exact.
“When one chamber of Congress is in session but not working, we the people still have to pay for members’ salaries and expenses, and for their police protection, and for keeping their lights and phones and coffee machines on. Even Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Mike Pence (R-IN) combined don’t blow enough hot air to heat the Capitol in January.”
And while conservative "concerns" about use of tax dollars have clearly fallen on partisan lines, it's those same conservatives that cry foul.
Ha ha! Yes, we can tell that this analysis is strictly non-partisan. Say, how much did Nancy Pelosi’s speech, complete with its rambling partisan defense, cost us? Wait, Vanity Fair and Keating are too busy venting outrageous outrage over the reading of the foundational legal document that members of Congress swear to uphold and defend.
How do VF and Keating reach their conclusions? They take the cost-per-minute of the House being in session, complete apparently to the cost of cleaning staffs, and apply that to the time needed to read the Constitution. Of course, this is simply bunk. The House did not come to session to read the Constitution, so those fixed costs — including salaries — would have been spent already regardless of whatever gets said on the floor. The cost doesn’t come from the reading; it comes from the existence of Congress itself.
There isn’t even any opportunity cost involved, since the reading of the Constitution won’t prevent any other business from being conducted. It will take much less time to read the Constitution than to, say, name post offices and hear debate over whether to designate February as National Toothpick Month, complete with testimonials to the toothpick industry and how it contributed to the greatness of America by removing the remains of porkchops from the teeth of red-blooded Americans. There actually isn’t much extra cost in those efforts either, except for the paper needed to publish the bills, because once again, Congress would already be in session. Those cases matter because politicians like to use those resolutions to claim productivity, when in fact they’re wasting time — but not much money.
One can literally sense that Ed Morrissey is really stretching the limits of his own rhetoric to validate what is ultimately attention whoring to the conservative base.
But one has to ask why Republicans didn't offer this up before. Oh, that's right - we didn't have a President with a funny sounding name that was more intent on a Domestic agenda that included ALL people prior to 2009. Silly me.
So here's my next question for Morrissey - and any other conservatives that have a new found love for our "sacred documents". What else is going to be read in the Lower Chamber now that the GOP/Tea Baggers/Koch Industries have a louder voice and a higher vote count?
- The Emancipation Proclamation?
- Declaration of Independence?
- Any of the letter of Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin?
- Atlas Shrugged?
There's always going to be a cost related to anything done by members of Congress, and it's always going to be footed by the tax payer. It's just that Little Eddie can't stand it when someone points out that the logic used by him and his compatriots is just as "bunk" as what Vanity Fair did. Had he the intellectual honesty to realize that that is what Peter Keating and Juli Weiner were attempting to accomplish - at least that's how I read it - then perhaps he and others like him would seek to be just a shade more serious now that they have a modest majority in Congress.
I'm not looking for that to happen though.