There is a cost to a do-nothing congress. And this is definitely a do-nothing congress. Oh sure, they pretend to accomplish things, but mostly they just dick around with PR stunts that even they know are doomed. And they don't pay for their own PR -- you do.
Take for example the repeated votes to repeal Obamacare. Those bills go nowhere in the Senate -- they aren't even brought up for a vote -- yet John Boehner has wasted 80 hours worth of taxpayer money on these election year stunts. That ain't free and that ain't hay.
According to a report by CBS News, these efforts, widely viewed as symbolic political maneuvers, come with a high price tag.
CBS' Nancy Cordes reported Wednesday that Republicans' many fruitless attempts at repealing the Affordable Care Act have taken up at least 80 hours of time on the House floor since 2010, amounting to two full work weeks. As the House, according to the Congressional Research Service, costs taxpayers $24 million a week to operate, those two weeks amounted to a total cost of approximately $48 million.
It's not hard to work out the hourly burn rate for tax money by the House of Representatives. Every time someone bangs that stupid, oversized gavel of Boehner's, tax money starts getting shoveled into a furnace at a rate of $600,000/hour. So votes to defund Planned Parenthood, PBS, NPR, and what-have-you -- all widely acknowledged doomed efforts to excite the base -- cost $600,000/hour. Up in smoke, with nothing to show for it, because Republicans are such wise stewards of taxpayer money.
But that's not the worst of it. Not by a long shot. The Huffington Post again:
...The 2011 argument about the debt ceiling--the most recent battle--cost the U.S. government about $1.3 billion in extra borrowing costs, according to a new study by the Government Accountability Office [pdf], the nonpartisan congressional watchdog.
And that's just the costs that the GAO bothered to count. There are also probably extra borrowing costs that the government is still paying this year and in future years because of the debt-ceiling debacle, but the GAO's computer was too tired and/or depressed to try to figure those out.
"Many of the Treasury securities issued during the 2011 debt limit event period will remain outstanding for years to come," the GAO said. "Accordingly, the multiyear increase in borrowing costs arising from the event is greater than the additional borrowing costs during fiscal 2011 alone."
So, a political hissy-fit over spending costs more than the spending for the entire year in which that hissy-fit was held. Good thinkin' there, 'baggers. No one will ever accuse you of being good at math. And those costs aren't the only ones -- other costs aren't so easily calculated.
"[T]here's no price tag you can put, really, on Congress's debt-ceiling idiocy," writes HuffPo's financial reporter Mark Gongloff. "Treasury rates plunged because everybody got worried all the sudden that the debt downgrade, along with Europe's monetary pyromania, would lead to another recession. It didn't, but another debt-ceiling fight that pushes the economy right to the brink of disaster won't help matters. Regardless of the cost, we can't afford another mistake like that one."
So the loss of non-tax dollars will never be known, but is certainly substantial. All because John Boehner and some insane teabagger types don't want Barack Obama to be president.
Congress will be going into another summer recess in August. That will be the only time that House Republicans will be saving taxpayer money -- by not showing up to do nothing. They'll be doing all their nothing from the comfort of their own homes, where it's a lot less expensive.
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