So, the Senate barbershop is a thing, and surprise: It runs at a deficit

posted at 6:31 pm on March 17, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Well, isn’t this just peachy. This is actually the first time I’ve heard anything about it, but apparently, the public servants of the United States Senate have been enjoying taxpayer-subsidized trims and shaves on Capitol Hill since before the Civil War — an oh-so-beloved tradition that, in merely the past fifteen years, has cost taxpayers over five million dollars. Senate Hair Care Services is technically open to the public, for those who know/care about it, but last year alone the salon needed a $300,000 bailout from the Senate coffers to cover their jacked-up costs.

The convenient little Senatorial perk has steadily resisted several sporadic efforts to reform the outfit over the years, but sequestration is once again focusing some attention on the endeavor, the Weekly Standard reports:

The barbershop of the U.S. Senate has run deficits of approximately $350,000 a year for each of the last 15 years. So Senate sergeant at arms Terry Gainer has decided to try out a new model, one that has looked rather unfashionable during the Obama era: privatization. …

Gainer has tried to trim Senate Hair Care Services for the past few years. Now the political climate troubling everyone else on Capitol Hill is allowing him to move faster than he anticipated towards privatizing it completely. …

The sequestration’s required spending cuts provide convenient cover. Gainer is offering early retirement to all eligible employees, hoping to replace them with independent contractors. Four employees have already accepted the offer, and they plan to retire in the next 60 days. Gainer likens these “buyouts” to those that corporations often make. He has no timeline for complete privatization, but is determined to see it through.

The other chamber managed to revamp their own deficit-running, government-subsidized barbershop in 1995, when House Republicans passed a resolution as a part of Speaker Gingrich’s privatization task force — is it really so very outrageous that the Senate should have to do the same?

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