Congressmen talk about the mess in Washington as if they are powerless voices in the wilderness, fighting gallantly but helplessly against the bureaucracy and other spendthrift members. Yet when it’s reelection time, they come home beating their chests about how much clout they have in Washington and how their magical seniority gives them nearly carte blanche to deliver gobs of fat pork-barrel spending. All we have to do is look around to see that our congressmen aren’t as powerful or as innocent as they pretend.
But what about this mysterious seniority? No church group or company or civic club would choose leaders through seniority, but Congress does. Most Americans like the idea of representatives who go to Washington for a short period of time, yet politicians claim they can’t bring home the bacon without climbing the seniority ladder by staying in Washington for 20 years, or longer.
Fortunately, the facts tell a different story. True, the longer someone’s in Congress the more seniority they have, but they don’t send home more federal money. The real numbers show no correlation between the seniority of a state’s congressional delegation and federal spending in the state. What seniority does produce is an entrenched Congress full of special interest influence, and wasteful spending. Few Americans benefit.
No state or district ever gained prosperity through special favors from Washington. Seniority is a costly mirage that only shows up in the taxes taken out of all of our paychecks.
President Truman once said term limits “would help cure seniority and senility two terrible legislative diseases.”
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.