Lamest pushback ever? Reading Constitution in Congress will cost us $1.1 million!

posted at 10:12 am on January 6, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Brian Faughnan at Liberty Central found this objection to one of the House Republican’s plans to read the US Constitution aloud at Vanity Fair, which Brian called “the stupidest column” ever to run at the magazine.  While that may be a high bar — or low one, depending on your point of view — to clear, the report from Juli Weiner certainly qualifies to be in the running.  In an attempt to shed scorn over GOP efforts at fiscal responsibility, she and author Peter Keating attempt to calculate the cost of reading the document aloud:

It would seem that in an era of Fiscal Responsibility™, a performative rendition of the Constitution might have been one such eliminated endeavor. For an estimate on just how much the Republicans would have saved if they had decided against the tedious exercise, VF Daily checked with Peter Keating, the co-author of “The Cost of No” and VF.com’s resident expert on Congressional wastefulness.

“The amount I get is nearly $1.1 million. $1,071,872.87, to be exact, though of course this is more back-of-the-envelope than exact.

“When one chamber of Congress is in session but not working, we the people still have to pay for members’ salaries and expenses, and for their police protection, and for keeping their lights and phones and coffee machines on. Even Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Mike Pence (R-IN) combined don’t blow enough hot air to heat the Capitol in January.”

Ha ha!  Yes, we can tell that this analysis is strictly non-partisan.  Say, how much did Nancy Pelosi’s speech, complete with its rambling partisan defense, cost us?  Wait, Vanity Fair and Keating are too busy venting outrageous outrage over the reading of the foundational legal document that members of Congress swear to uphold and defend.

How do VF and Keating reach their conclusions?  They take the cost-per-minute of the House being in session, complete apparently to the cost of cleaning staffs, and apply that to the time needed to read the Constitution.  Of course, this is simply bunk.  The House did not come to session to read the Constitution, so those fixed costs — including salaries — would have been spent already regardless of whatever gets said on the floor. The cost doesn’t come from the reading; it comes from the existence of Congress itself.

There isn’t even any opportunity cost involved, since the reading of the Constitution won’t prevent any other business from being conducted.  It will take much less time to read the Constitution than to, say, name post offices and hear debate over whether to designate February as National Toothpick Month, complete with testimonials to the toothpick industry and how it contributed to the greatness of America by removing the remains of porkchops from the teeth of red-blooded Americans.  There actually isn’t much extra cost in those efforts either, except for the paper needed to publish the bills, because once again, Congress would already be in session.  Those cases matter because politicians like to use those resolutions to claim productivity, when in fact they’re wasting time — but not much money.

The idea behind reading the Constitution is to remind lawmakers of the limited power and jurisdiction the document grants the federal government.  What has it cost the US to ignore those restrictions?  Just take a look at the national debt for the answer to that question.


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Read, baby, read it. The dems need to hear this precious document that they loathe…

OmahaConservative on January 6, 2011 at 10:17 AM

Democrats suddenly care about how much money we spend.

amerpundit on January 6, 2011 at 10:19 AM

The Constitution…IT BURRRRNNNSSS USSSS!!!

Good Lt on January 6, 2011 at 10:19 AM

Even Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Mike Pence (R-IN) combined don’t blow enough hot air to heat the Capitol in January.”

At least the authors were evenhanded in their analysis.

Bishop on January 6, 2011 at 10:20 AM

I think we’ve hit a nerve with these Euro-socialists.

dforston on January 6, 2011 at 10:20 AM

You know liberals have been so harshly programmed for propaganda and pushback that they refuse to ever pause and consider the option of keeping silent as a strategy. The idea of reading the Constitution has become one of the best litmus tests anyone could have done on the politicians in this country. Notice you don’t have any moderates like McCaskill running around saying “Don’t read the Constitution”. Only the hard left is scared or feels the knee jerk reaction to blather.

Honestly, Do they realize how contemptuous this make themselves look? Could there be a worse reaction to their loss than rejecting a reading of the Constitution?

Conan on January 6, 2011 at 10:21 AM

Cost of not reading the Constitution: $14 trillion.

The Left has no ideas and no arguments any more. There’s more than a whiff of desperation in the air.

rbj on January 6, 2011 at 10:21 AM

hear debate over whether to designate February as National Toothpick Month, complete with testimonials to the toothpick industry and how it contributed to the greatness of America by removing the remains of porkchops from the teeth of red-blooded Americans.

And it’s about damn time!

mankai on January 6, 2011 at 10:22 AM

And Democrats responded: “What is this ‘Constitution’ thing you speak of?”.

kurtzz3 on January 6, 2011 at 10:22 AM

How much did Senator Byrd cost us during this, uh, speech?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IindJIwH0_o

itsnotaboutme on January 6, 2011 at 10:22 AM

Now if we could just use that same computational formula to find the real taxpayer funded costs of the Obama family vacations/golf excusions…//

canditaylor68 on January 6, 2011 at 10:23 AM

Boy, sounds like those turds are turning into the party of NO.

m0nkeyb0y on January 6, 2011 at 10:23 AM

Cost of not reading the Constitution: $14 trillion.

The Left has no ideas and no arguments any more. There’s more than a whiff of desperation in the air.

rbj on January 6, 2011 at 10:21 AM

Solid Gold.

:)

mankai on January 6, 2011 at 10:23 AM

The cost of reading the Constitution is nothing compared to the cost of creating and defending it.

Electrongod on January 6, 2011 at 10:23 AM

I don’t know why they even bother to read that old thing. It’s way ancient and too hard to understand, anyway.

a capella on January 6, 2011 at 10:24 AM

There’s more than a whiff of desperation in the air.

rbj on January 6, 2011 at 10:21 AM

Smells like…victory.

Good Lt on January 6, 2011 at 10:25 AM

How much did it cost, for Nancy and her gang of commies to march up the steps , gavel in hand, to ceremoniously vote us into health care hell?

capejasmine on January 6, 2011 at 10:25 AM

This.

Cost of not reading the Constitution: $14 trillion.

The Left has no ideas and no arguments any more. There’s more than a whiff of desperation in the air.

rbj on January 6, 2011 at 10:21 AM

canditaylor68 on January 6, 2011 at 10:26 AM

The leftist meltdown begins; it’s going to be bad, very very bad.

Bishop on January 6, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Personally, it would appear to me that reading the Constitution is a gigantic cost savings. Every moment that the Constitution is being read is time during which the Dems can’t pass more laws restricting our freedoms and costing us trillions more.

Read on, guys; read on!

pbundy on January 6, 2011 at 10:27 AM

The House did not come to session to read the Constitution, so those fixed costs — including salaries — would have been spent already regardless of whatever gets said on the floor. The cost doesn’t come from the reading; it comes from the existence of Congress itself.

Ed, if we’re going to use the “it’s going to be spent anyway”, why such a strong opposition to earmarks? Isn’t that the excuse used by pork lovers on the left and right?

NoStoppingUs on January 6, 2011 at 10:27 AM

SP should slap down a mil and say,

“READ IT!!!”

Sonosam on January 6, 2011 at 10:28 AM

They need to begin by reciting the pledge of allegiance, with hands over hearts.

OmahaConservative on January 6, 2011 at 10:28 AM

It will take much less time to read the Constitution than to, say, name post offices and hear debate over whether to designate February as National Toothpick Month, complete with testimonials to the toothpick industry and how it contributed to the greatness of America by removing the remains of porkchops from the teeth of red-blooded Americans.

Excellent writing, Ed!

Fallen Sparrow on January 6, 2011 at 10:29 AM

I don’t know why they even bother to read that old thing. It’s way ancient and too hard to understand, anyway.

a capella on January 6, 2011 at 10:24 AM

I guess the people at Liberty Central are just looking for attention.

Freddy on January 6, 2011 at 10:29 AM

There could also be a cost over run if someone doesn’t understand it and asks a question. This would result in an explanation from as many as it takes to clear up the misunderstanding. You know this is how govt works.

Kissmygrits on January 6, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Just take care my friends. Our opponents are trying to divide, demoralize, and distract us. This is just the sort of thing we can expect from our elitist “betters” over the next two years.

Mutnodjmet on January 6, 2011 at 10:30 AM

So it’s the price of one Obama vacation.

Or less.
Where in the Constitution does it say presidents get paid vacations?

profitsbeard on January 6, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Will the Nanzi show up for it?

Key West Reader on January 6, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Vanity Fair/ Valerie Plame, nuff sed

darwin-t on January 6, 2011 at 10:31 AM

Just take care my friends. Our opponents are trying to divide, demoralize, and distract us. This is just the sort of thing we can expect from our elitist “betters” over the next two years.

Mutnodjmet on January 6, 2011 at 10:30 AM

They are only 19% of our population.

Key West Reader on January 6, 2011 at 10:31 AM

The Constitution…IT BURRRRNNNSSS USSSS!!!

Good Lt on January 6, 2011 at 10:19 AM

OK, that made me laugh out loud! Well Done.

search4truth on January 6, 2011 at 10:31 AM

Will the Nanzi show up for it?

Key West Reader on January 6, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Heard on FNC she will be reading, early on.

OmahaConservative on January 6, 2011 at 10:32 AM

Breaking:

In an effort to outdo Republicans, democrats will read their Constitution next week. Steny Hoyer has directed the government printing office print 500 copies of the Soviet Constitution for next weeks reading.

Democrat members were said to be thrilled and “bubbly” at Hoyers move.

darwin on January 6, 2011 at 10:33 AM

Have Barry come home a day early from one of his vacations. Problem solved.

RadClown on January 6, 2011 at 10:33 AM

They need to begin by reciting the pledge of allegiance, with hands over hearts.
OmahaConservative on January 6, 2011 at 10:28 AM

Too much confusion.

All those demorats screaming out “I pledge allegiance to the flag of:”

Syria!
North Korea!
China!
Iran!
Cuba!
Russia!
Venezuela!

It would sound like a dog pound in the halls of Congress. Better to just leave it alone.

Bishop on January 6, 2011 at 10:33 AM

What a bunch of useless tools

Stand firm gop

cmsinaz on January 6, 2011 at 10:33 AM

You know, in addition to the Obamaism of the day, how about the stupidist thing from Congress (any party) of the day?

There’s a lot of opportunity there…

HBowmanMD on January 6, 2011 at 10:35 AM

There could also be a cost over run if someone doesn’t understand it and asks a question.

Kissmygrits on January 6, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Pretty funny, a potential cost overrun for reading! It would be even worse if they had “Con Law Prof” Obama answering the questions.

jwolf on January 6, 2011 at 10:36 AM

Me too search4truth

:)

cmsinaz on January 6, 2011 at 10:37 AM

Where was this crack analysis when the democrats had comedian Steven Colbert up on the Hill wasting our time and money?????

This will be the theme coming from liberals and their allies in the press the next few years.
Made up faux outrage at the GOP while they spent over two years defending or ignoring the waste,lies,and corruption coming from Obama and his democratic friends.

Baxter Greene on January 6, 2011 at 10:37 AM

Bishop on January 6, 2011 at 10:33 AM

The cacophony would be deafening.

OmahaConservative on January 6, 2011 at 10:37 AM

“When one chamber of Congress is in session but not working, we the people still have to pay for members’ salaries and expenses, and for their police protection, and for keeping their lights and phones and coffee machines on

So how much would we have saved if the Democrat congress hadn’t shirked its duties and addressed the tax bill before the last minute?

How many extra days did congress have to stay in session to deal with that ONE example of Democrat fiscal irresponsibility?

RadClown on January 6, 2011 at 10:39 AM

What did they spend reprimanding Joe Wilson….?

NeoKong on January 6, 2011 at 10:39 AM

the Left hates the Constitution for the same reason it hates the bible. they both give us rules to live by and limit our choices so evil can not gain a foothold in our lives. Ignore either document and Evil grows unchecked. And yes the Party of Death is nothing but pure evil. The people may not be but the end result of their actions killing the unborn, killing off grandma are…..

unseen on January 6, 2011 at 10:39 AM

Where was the outrage when Sheets Byrd whipped his pocket Constitution out at the drop of a hat?

Dingbat63 on January 6, 2011 at 10:40 AM

Confirmed:

The Left has -finally- admitted to rejecting the Constitution. No more games.

Time to debate.

visions on January 6, 2011 at 10:40 AM

Where is the pic of the wretched Keith Richards hag when you need it? What is her name and will she be a reader. How’s about Louise “Poligrip” Slaughter?

OmahaConservative on January 6, 2011 at 10:42 AM

Good Lt on January 6, 2011 at 10:19 AM

and Nancy lost the ……PRECIOUSSSSSSSSSSSS…..

belad on January 6, 2011 at 10:42 AM

How do VF and Keating reach their conclusions? They take the cost-per-minute of the House being in session, complete apparently to the cost of cleaning staffs, and apply that to the time needed to read the Constitution. Of course, this is simply bunk. The House did not come to session to read the Constitution, so those fixed costs — including salaries — would have been spent already regardless of whatever gets said on the floor.

Sounds like the same math democrats used for “jobs saved or created”.

Baxter Greene on January 6, 2011 at 10:42 AM

Let’s check out that 2007 coverage of Speaker Pelosi …

WASHINGTON, Jan. 1 — During her first 100 hours as House speaker, Nancy Pelosi has vowed, she will sweep an aggressive legislative agenda through the newly Democratic-controlled House.
But first comes Pelosi-palooza.
In a three-day stretch of whirlwind events beginning on Wednesday, Mrs. Pelosi will celebrate her heritage (at the Italian Embassy), her faith (in a Roman Catholic Mass), her education (at Trinity College), her childhood (in Baltimore) and her current home (in a tribute by the singer Tony Bennett, of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” fame).

Funny how the Times reviled in “Pelosi-palooza”

J_Crater on January 6, 2011 at 10:43 AM

Wow! $1.1 million! We sure do save a lot when they’re not actually engaged in passing laws!

morganfrost on January 6, 2011 at 10:43 AM

Where was this crack analysis when the democrats had comedian Steven Colbert up on the Hill wasting our time and money?????

Baxter Greene on January 6, 2011 at 10:37 AM

:D

ladyingray on January 6, 2011 at 10:44 AM

…and the censored version will cost even less to read.

sesquipedalian on January 6, 2011 at 10:46 AM

It’s nice to see the rabble is sticking their heads up so we can identify and catalog them for future reference.

That’s one benefit of the last 4 years and Obama winning the Presidency. Now we know who wants to subvert the U.S. Constitution.

They can’t play in the shadows anymore. These aren’t your parent’s pinkos…the old commies weren’t this freakin lame or dim enough to tip their hands.

Is it any wonder they lost so big in November?

Dr Evil on January 6, 2011 at 10:46 AM

It’s very telling that leftists are up in arms about this. Reading the constitution is a symbol, and the reaction we are seeing from the left means that symbol is working. Instead of laughing they are angry.

The country has been borrowing 50 thousand dollars a second since June 1st. That’s right, BORROWING.

Mord on January 6, 2011 at 10:46 AM

and Nancy lost the ……PRECIOUSSSSSSSSSSSS…..

belad on January 6, 2011 at 10:42 AM

SSSTUPID FATTT HOBBITSSSISSSS!

Good Lt on January 6, 2011 at 10:48 AM

We gotta read it to find out what’s in it!

lorien1973 on January 6, 2011 at 10:48 AM

The Constitution has the same effect on democrats that garlic has on a vampire.

darwin on January 6, 2011 at 10:49 AM

We gotta read it to find out what’s in it!

lorien1973 on January 6, 2011 at 10:48 AM

Heh

Dr Evil on January 6, 2011 at 10:50 AM

:D

ladyingray on January 6, 2011 at 10:44 AM

Happy New Year to you and I hope your Proud American Soldier had a great Holiday also.

Baxter Greene on January 6, 2011 at 10:50 AM

I am all for the reading of the U.S. Constitution in the House and Senate…now how do we get them to listen?

You can lead a duck to water but you can’t make it swim ;)

Dr Evil on January 6, 2011 at 10:51 AM

great column Ed. Nice backhand.

ted c on January 6, 2011 at 10:52 AM

You’re right. Having the representatives of the people of the United States of America read the Constitution of the United States of America is a waste of the money we’d have to spend on them no matter what they were doing.

It would be far better that they spend their time passing resolutions praising sports teams or something.

MadisonConservative on January 6, 2011 at 10:52 AM

…and the censored version will cost even less to read.

sesquipedalian on January 6, 2011 at 10:46 AM

Can you read the Constitution without adverse effects or will you burst into flame?

darwin on January 6, 2011 at 10:52 AM

We gotta read it to find out what’s in it!

lorien1973 on January 6, 2011 at 10:48 AM

heh. Nice turn of the Alinsky phrase, lorien. Make them play by their own rules, IIRC.

ted c on January 6, 2011 at 10:52 AM

Isn’t that the excuse used by pork lovers on the left and right?

NoStoppingUs

Only the dumb ones.

xblade on January 6, 2011 at 10:53 AM

Let’s start a pool to guess which Congresscritter will be the first to object to the reading of the Constitution.

Rovin on January 6, 2011 at 10:54 AM

Let’s start a pool to guess which Congresscritter will be the first to object to the reading of the Constitution.

Rovin on January 6, 2011 at 10:54 AM

The left is up in arms over it.

/Don’t smell their pits!

Key West Reader on January 6, 2011 at 10:56 AM

We gotta read it to find out what’s in it!

lorien1973 on January 6, 2011 at 10:48 AM

Reading something? Nonsense.

See: ObamaCare

Good Lt on January 6, 2011 at 10:57 AM

We’d assign it as an “outside reading,” but we know Dems won’t do their homework.

Dr. K mentioned this during the Fox News panel on Special Report last night. He thought it was unbelievable that so many liberals and Dems are lining up to criticize this notion.

Back to basics, Congress.

BuckeyeSam on January 6, 2011 at 10:57 AM

Could Vanity Fair and Keating’s lame point be any more irrelevant considering that they have been defending this over the last few years.

When the Pelosi Democrats took control of Congress on January 4, 2007, the national debt stood at $8,670,596,242,973.04. The last day of the 111th Congress and Pelosi’s Speakership on December 22, 2010 the national debt was $13,858,529,371,601.09 – a roughly $5.2 trillion increase in just four years. Furthermore, the year over year federal deficit has roughly quadrupled during Pelosi’s four years as speaker, from $342 billion in fiscal year 2007 to an estimated $1.6 trillion at the end of fiscal year 2010.

Liberals are pathetic.

Baxter Greene on January 6, 2011 at 10:57 AM

This is a great opportunity for the leftists to come on out and openly state their hate for the Constitution.

Let’s keep doing this.

ted c on January 6, 2011 at 10:57 AM

The Constitution has the same effect on democrats that garlic has on a vampire.

darwin on January 6, 2011 at 10:49 AM

Nice…

PatriotRider on January 6, 2011 at 10:58 AM

I’ve often wondered how the congress-critters can take an oath to “protect and defend” a document that they have never read. Now that the U.S. Constitution will have been read on the floor of the House of Representatives, the congress-critters can no longer claim ignorance as an excuse when they vote for something unconstitutional.

Too bad attendance for this reading isn’t mandatory…

Jonas Parker on January 6, 2011 at 10:58 AM

Mind you, the Constitution is a relatively short document compared to the 1,700+page bills that the Democrats proffer over the last few years. If they object to reading a document that is a few pages in length, then, of course, they are not reading the craptastic bills they are attempting to pass.

Comparisons.

ted c on January 6, 2011 at 10:59 AM

I remember a time when liberals cited the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence to press for change. Wow, that was a LONG time ago.

KillerKane on January 6, 2011 at 10:59 AM

OMG, they are arguing about which language to read it ?

Key West Reader on January 6, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Breaking:

FoxNews reporting spontaneous human combustion in the House of Representatives. Screams of agony heard coming from the democrat progressive wing.

darwin on January 6, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Let’s start a pool to guess which Congresscritter will be the first to object to the reading of the Constitution.

Rovin on January 6, 2011 at 10:54 AM

First winner—Ray Inslee D NY Wants of know the what the language that will be read. This is not of course understood by the Democratic Party.

Rovin on January 6, 2011 at 11:02 AM

Hammer the left with the words they hate most.

darwin on January 6, 2011 at 11:03 AM

From Boehner’s 2007 speech:

The value of the majority lies not in the chance to wield great power but in the chance to use limited power to achieve great things.

Very prescient.

Pretty funny, a potential cost overrun for reading! It would be even worse if they had “Con Law Prof” Obama answering the questions.
jwolf on January 6, 2011 at 10:36 AM

Yes, as we look at how much the ‘health care summit’ (and ‘beer summit’!), and add in all his endless campaign stops which masquerade as governing, it’s easy to deduce that if costs are to be measured in words, Obama has got to be the most expensive president ever.

Buy Danish on January 6, 2011 at 11:04 AM

Winner #2 Jessie Jackson Jr.

He’s also looking for the reading to include womens and blacks sufferage.

Rovin on January 6, 2011 at 11:05 AM

I remember a time when liberals cited the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence to press for change. Wow, that was a LONG time ago.

KillerKane on January 6, 2011 at 10:59 AM

that was their way of sugaring over a crap sandwich in order to get others to buy off on it. They pervert the Consitution and the Declaration as well as words such as “rights” “freedom” and “liberty” while completely ignoring truths such as the “Creator” in their perverse march toward full-on Gaian Progressive Utopia.

ted c on January 6, 2011 at 11:07 AM

Finally. I switched to C-Span from FNC.

Yuccch, Botox Nanzi…

OmahaConservative on January 6, 2011 at 11:07 AM

maybe they could invite the president over to read it for them. Apparently, he’s good at reading stuff and making it sound good. I betcha he’d choke on the words though when it came to ArtII….scratch that, any of the articles.

ted c on January 6, 2011 at 11:08 AM

Aha! So the democraps’ refusal to read their massive legislation before passing it was actually a deficit reduction measure. Who knew?

eaglewingz08 on January 6, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Obama shant be bothered with such trivial matters. He is busy in the bath.

Key West Reader on January 6, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Who needs to read it when we could have crr explain how it should have been written?

MeatHeadinCA on January 6, 2011 at 11:11 AM

Money well spent.

1. If congress is reading the constitution they are not spending money.
2. If even a few Democrats (or RINO’S for that matter) see the light, it will save even more money.

The Rock on January 6, 2011 at 11:12 AM

Can’t they read it by heart?

Key West Reader on January 6, 2011 at 11:13 AM

Impeachment LOL

Key West Reader on January 6, 2011 at 11:13 AM

Can’t they read it by heart?

Key West Reader on January 6, 2011 at 11:13 AM

Many of them are hearing what’s in it for the first time today…

OmahaConservative on January 6, 2011 at 11:15 AM

If they would have done nothing every day they were in session for the past two years we would have saved a trillion or so dollars. Get to reading and stay with it-money well spent.

Herb on January 6, 2011 at 11:15 AM

Confirmed:

The Left has -finally- admitted to rejecting the Constitution. No more games.

Time to debate relegate to the dustbin of history.

visions on January 6, 2011 at 10:40 AM

FTFY

Inanemergencydial on January 6, 2011 at 11:16 AM

Watching live. Only Congress would make the reading so complicated and be so worried about “fairness” that they spend more time announcing each “reader” that the content and meaning of the Constitution is lost on the listener – and themselves. They should have brought in a half dozen school kids instead. Idiots.

Mr_Magoo on January 6, 2011 at 11:16 AM

$1.1 million? Money well spent.

Cost of reading the Constitution to Congress? A bargain at any price.

Here’s the deal, GOP: Enforce our Constitution and, when they object, rub their noses in it.

petefrt on January 6, 2011 at 11:18 AM

Many of them are hearing what’s in it for the first time today…

OmahaConservative on January 6, 2011 at 11:15 AM

A Tea Party Victory!

Key West Reader on January 6, 2011 at 11:18 AM

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