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13th February
written by Sean Noble

It’s Friday the 13th, and I can’t think of a more appropriate day for the misnamed “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” to pass Congress.  This bill is scary, it’s full of tricks and hidden agendas and it won’t help America’s economy recover.  It passed the House with no Republican’s voting in favor.

Today’s editorial in the Los Angeles Times says that we’re getting too little actual stimulus in return for the amount of money that has been stuffed into the bill.  And it is stuffed full of all kinds of things that will do little or nothing to actual promote economic growth.  What’s worse, we don’t actually know what all is in the bill.  Senate Democrats even admit publicly that they won’t be able to read it before they vote on it.

There are only about five people on the planet who actually know all of what is in the bill – and not one of them is an elected official.  The “knowers” are a few high level staff members, which should make everyone nervous.

Staffers at that high level tend to be pretty ideological – particularly Democrat staff.  I don’t mean that in a negative way, it’s just that Democrat staffers tend to work on the Hill longer than Republican staffers.  I was there for 14 years, and that is increasingly less common in this day and age.  I had Democrat colleagues who had staffed the Hill during Watergate, and they were still there.

No one (in their right mind) goes to work on the Hill to make a lot of money.  It is a brutal existence and it takes very committed folks to do that grind year in and year out.  But they do it because they are committed to their beliefs, their sense of public service, etc.  And as it turns out, Democrat staffers stay on the Hill longer than Republican staffers.

And, most of them could never be elected by a vote of the people because they are “too extreme” in their belief – either left or right.  The partisan posturing that politicians employ on CSPAN is child’s play compared to the ideological fights behind closed doors among the typical high level Hill staffers. I’m talking about Legislative Directors, Chiefs of Staff, Committee staff, etc.  Those folks are committed to what they are doing to the point of making financial sacrifices to remain at the levers of power.

On the Hill, information is power.  It’s the ultimate power.  So when you can withhold information to keep the Members on board and not quibbling with the details, you can wield awesome power.

This entire exercise demonstrates why term limits won’t work.  Staffers outwit, outplay and outlast most Members of Congress.  They are the true survivors.

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  1. Thomas

    pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

  2. Carol

    This couldn’t be said any better. The whole place is a giant labyrinth, figuratively and literally, and its only the smartest and most persistent that survive. Kind of like Lost!

    You probably still see government green tunnels, snack bars serving bean soup, and security checkpoints in your sleep.

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