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Congressional Entitlement
Posted by: Jon Henke on Friday, January 20, 2006

The entitlement attitude of career Beltway politicians illustrated...
Some lawmakers said they thought Congress was overreacting to the lobbying scandal with an excess of new rules and requirements.

"Now we're going to say you can't have a meal for more than 20 bucks," said Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi. "Where are you going, to McDonald's?"
Apparently, it's just too much to expect Senator Lott, et al, to buy their own food with their meager ~$160,000/yr salary, and it's way out of line to expect a United States Senator to subsist on sub-$20 lunches.

UPDATE: McQ informs me that — quelle surprise! — the New York Times Reporter has quoted Senator Lott out of context. In a recent USA Today story, a bit more context is given...

To his credit, Lott says he would rather see a complete ban on meals than a $20 limit. That makes some sense. In any event...

This isn't about corruption. Senators are probably not bought and sold over $30 lunches at Red Lobster. It's about the sense of entitlement that Congressmen have in every aspect of Washington life. If there's a bennie to be had, they take it. And they do it because they can; not becuse they have substantially different moral codes than you or I, but because the incentives are geared towards producing that kind of behaviour. And, Congressmen being human, they react to incentives.

Consider what Radley Balko tells us about Congressman Boehner...
For example, in 2002 Rep. Richard Burr, R-N.C., was "educated" at the expensive Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas with first-class airplane tickets, an open bar for poolside drinks and other "educational" expenses paid for by the National Association of Broadcasters, according The Washington Post. The trip's purpose: a public policy conference. Burr later wanted to learn about the nuclear site in Nevada's Yucca Mountain. Not content to simply visit the Nevada desert, Burr and Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, arranged for a lobbyist to "educate" them and their spouses in Barcelona and Seville.
Because Barcelona and Seville are, of course, the most obvious places to learn about nuclear waste in Nevada.
They went to Nevada's Yucca Mountain because it was their job; they went to Barcelona and Seville because they could.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Hear hear.
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Well said. Nay, perfectly said.
Written By: Nathan
$20 at McDonalds goes a long freaking way. That’s about a week’s worth of meals.

Unless you’re Ted Kennedy.
Written By: A fine scotch
URL: http://
And, if Congress is interested in "middle America" they should eat with middle America at places middle-America eats, not be whining because they can’t subsist on a $20 lunch.

I can’t think of the last time my wife and I ate lunch together and the meal ran over $25.
Written By: A fine scotch
URL: http://
Yeah, Scotch, but let’s be fair, here... that wasn’t in DC.
Expensive place to visit, to the point where I can’t iamgine living there.

Written By: Bithead

You may have just hit upon something important. Perhaps DC living has gotten so expensive that your Congresscritter cannot possibly live there comfortably on a measly $170k. Those gifts and perks are a requirement in order to affort those swanky digs in Georgetown.
Written By: D
URL: http://

There’s no real reason for our Congress critters to live in Washington. There’s a hell of a lot of TCP/IP bandwidth out there; we should use it.

Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Actually, D, I’m partially serious here.

Ever tried eating in a restaurant down there for any less than $25/pp? Ain’t happening, unless you’re eating at McDonald’s as Lott suggests. That was my impression last time we were there. That sucking sound you heard was my wallet being emptied every time my family of four sat down for a meal.

Come to think of it, now, Dale was just down their short time ago and perhaps he can shed some light on this subject of prices of resturants inside the loop? Dale?
Written By: Bithead
Taco Bell would be fine by me.
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
One can only imagine the horrendous living conditions endured by all those millions of people in the DC metropolitan area who make much less than $150K/yr. The thousands of military personnel, for example, or the people who cook and serve those lunches. It is truly inspiring that all those politicians are willing to endure such sacrifice to spend 20 years or so living in the DC area, selflessly serving their constituents.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Um... before tarring our own, why don’t we bother looking into WHY they might have traveled abroad? I don’t know, like doing some research beyond the MSM we constantly complain is biased (except for when it confirms our "suspicions" of course). Maybe it wasn’t just because "they could" go to Barcelona and Seville, but because Spain has an active nuclear waste program that we could learn a thing or two from?

Written By: Tyler
Funny how all those nuclear waste programs and stuff take place in places like Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, London, St. Andrews(Scotland), etc.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

If Senators were forbidden to take lobbyist money, most of those places would dry up (or their prices would be forced to come down).

Why can’t congressmen go to delis, pack their own lunches, or go to Applebee’s/Chili’s/TGIFriday’s/etc. If they want to represent "the people" maybe they should eat at places "the people" eat at.

I don’t care if Senators want to spend their own money on expensive lunches.
Written By: A fine scotch
URL: http://

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