People in politics talk about “dedicating their lives to public service,” a claim at which the cynic sniffs a little. After the election of 1994, that great conservative earthquake, the majority of incoming representatives and senators earned more in Congress than they had in the private sector, the first time that was known to have been the case. Congressional salaries aren’t huge, but Paul Ryan’s $223,500 per annum is nothing to turn one’s nose up at, and the perks of high office are nice. Barack Obama does miss his airplane. And after a career in Washington, you can always go make real money — that private-plane money — later in life.
Senator Rand Paul, the fantastically bitchy Kentucky Republican, kept Washington up late Thursday night, briefly forcing a technical shutdown of the federal government while he delayed a spending bill that will add another half-trillion or so to the national debt. He wanted 15 minutes for a vote on whether to repeal spending caps agreed to a few years ago, one of the important reforms of the much maligned John Boehner, who, while the talk-radio guys were calling him a weakling and a sellout, managed to knock about $5 trillion off future projected deficits. The same talk-radio guys were celebrating Senator Paul’s theatrical maneuvers on Friday, having rediscovered the national debt only a few weeks after breathlessly celebrating a tax bill that will add $1.5 trillion to it.