Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Saving the Taxpayers' Money -- or Not

Congratulations and much thanks are due to my representative in Congress, Virgil Goode, for his abstemiousness on behalf of his constituents.

According to a front-page article published today in The Hill, a local D.C. newspaper that covers Congress, Goode spends less money on office expenses than any other member of the House -- bucking a trend of rising expenditures paid for with money from our pockets:

In a political atmosphere colored by tax cuts and a growing national debt, spending by House members on office-related expenditures has risen by 25 percent in the past five years, according to government figures.

Representatives are given a yearly allowance, called the member’s representational allowance, by the Administration Committee to fund office expenses. In 2004, representatives spent a total of $490 million from their allowances, up from $391 million in 1999.

The top 10 House members in spending were determined by the percentage of their allowances spent during 2004. Reps. Barbara Cubin (R-Wyo.), Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) and Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), came within 1 percent of their congressional spending limits during 2004, almost 10 percent over the average for that year.

Reps. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), Steven Rothman (D-N.J.), Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), Jim McDermott (D-Wash), Ed Case (D-Hawaii) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) spent between $1.1 million and $1.4 million each, or more than 98 percent of their allowances. Of the 10 lowest spending House lawmakers, Virgil Goode (R-Va.) spent the least, $686,202.29, or 58 percent of his allowance.

David Williams, vice president for policy at Citizens Against Government Waste, said, "Charity begins at home, and if members are so concerned with helping taxpayers then maybe they should look at their own spending. It is an important symbolic gesture.

"There is a reason that people become cynical about government with the image of a big fat-cat politician with dollar bills coming out of his pockets, and it would be nice to see congressmen change that."
Taxpayers from Virginia's Fifth Congressional District may express their gratitude by writing to Representative Goode at his district office in Rocky Mount:

70 East Court St., Suite 215
Rocky Mount, VA 24151
Fax: (540)484-1459

And for those who live in the districts of those Members who are profligate with your money, feel free to send messages of disappointment. You can find your representative's contact information at the official House web site,


Waldo Jaquith said...

Goode spends too little as to be the logical extreme that demonstrates the problem with thinking "cheaper is better" (or any other maxim that can't be universaliized.) Goode is a wholly ineffectively legislator. He's got nothing to his credit after, what, a decade in office? In no small part, this comes of his refusal to pay the going rates for competent staffers.

It is self-evident that if he spent $0/year that would not make him a superior legislator -- he'd be the worse for it. I argue that he's considerably below the threshold of fiscally conservative, having dipped into just plain tight-fistedness. And we, the voters of the Fifth District, are the worse for it.

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