The "Grand Bargain" Is Neither

Apparently a bipartisan group of House members is urging the Super Committee to put “everything” “on the table” in order to reach its elusive “grand bargain.” For most people, the “bargain” isn’t going to be so grand if everything, including cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, is “on the table.”  Do lawmakers not realize that “grand bargain” is an unfortunate choice of words to describe their hoped-for deal?

You know how living in a polluted city makes it hard to recognize how putrid the air around you is …that, to recognize how much it reeks, you have to get out of town? Congress operates in a world gated community that reeks of privilege and entitlement. And I’m  starting to think that maybe some members of Congress are a bit out of touch. Their gated community world is too far-removed from the real world. For example:

Gated Community: Within the U.S. Treasury is a pot of money (and I’m not making this up) called "The Senate Hair Care Revolving Fund," dedicated to the care of senate members’ hair. The amount of money in the fund: over $261,000.

Real World: Many people drink tap water, which they filter at home and transport in water bottles that you can buy and re-use. People whose water has been contaminated by fracking are up a radioactive creek.

Gated Community: During the last half of FY 2009, the House spent $640,000 for “habitation expenses,” which, per its Statement of Disbursements (SOD), refer to “minor, minimal expenses incurred for decorating offices (pictures and welcome mats).”

Real World: $640,000…that’s a lot of welcome mats.

OK, a couple hundred thousand dollars here and there don’t constitute a big part of the federal budget. But it’s hard to trust that lawmakers who spend so much on things like coiffures and office tchotchkes understand just how much the rest of us depend on programs like Medicare and Medicaid.