90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Could We Outsource Congress?

Carolina Miranda reports that in 2013, it will cost taxpayers an estimated $260 million to maintain the Capitol, as well as the House and Senate office buildings. (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

Many American firms have found they can increase profits and productivity by outsourcing tasks – sometimes abroad, and sometimes locally – to subcontractors. So if it makes sense for companies, could it make sense for other sometimes less-than-productive ventures, like Congress? A Time magazine contributor makes that “modest proposal” in a tongue-in-cheek column.

“It came from a very real anger at the ineffectiveness that we see in Congress,” journalist Carolina Miranda told Here & Now’s Robin Young. “I am an independent contractor, I am a freelancer. I don’t get benefits, I don’t have a pension, I don’t have my own capitol security police force protecting me. So there’s this real sense that sometimes the folks that have been voted into Congress don’t really lead the lives that the average American leads.”

Outsourcing consultant Jagdish Dalal said one small example of something Congress could outsource is the printing of reports. In her piece for Time, Miranda reported that the legislative branch would spend $118 million on printing in 2012.

Dalal also suggested turning the U.S. Capitol building into a hotel.

“That might be a profit-generating idea,” Dalal said. “They can work from home. They can use Skype and use technology that we all tend to use in the industry, and stay and work from their own office.”

Miranda had a more drastic outsourcing proposal.

“Pink slip them all,” Miranda said. “Send it off to Costa Rica.”

Guests:


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Mike

    We keep saying “Congress” isn’t getting anything done.  But just who is it, really?

      Congress gets things done by compromising– each side gives a little.  Republicans and Democrats have been doing that since the beginning.  Somebody in Congress has stopped that process.  And that would be the Tea Party.  They will not compromise and give a little.

    So how did the Tea Party get so powerful as to stop the gears from turning?  Somebody voted them in.  Well, it wasn’t me.  In my state we voted for the same guys who’ve been getting things done for years.

    So you people in the states represented by ultra-conservatives– this is your doing! 

  • Charles Vigneron

    I like the notion of putting the house Representatives in cubicles arranged on the floor roughly geographically. Have to rub elbows whatever Party. All guests or lobbyists must be taken to cafeteria. They punch a time-clock and sign-out to leave to committee work or hear staff (housed elsewhere) reports, provide staff direction. 
    daydreaming

  • Charles Vigneron

    Everything would be available on every channel at c-span. CCTV watching the cafeteria, cubicle farm, time-clocks.

  • LizinOregon

    If this was supposed to be humor it was a total fail for me.  Worse, it spreads the destructive Republican talking point that government is useless.  The give-away was when the reporter brought up the “uncertainty” canard.  

    How about giving your listeners some context for that $4.9 billion legislative branch budget (including the “back office”) in relation to the total federal budget.  According to the Cato Institute, it is just 0.14 percent.  Sounds like a bargain to me for just 1 of the 3 branches of our government.   The Congress was the first branch created in the Constitution and the one that most directly represents us. It is a mirror that reflects the divisiveness in the country, exactly what it is supposed to be.  There is a simple way to express your unhappiness with the current gridlock – and that is to vote for someone else on November 6.  What could be easier than that?

    • Margarita in California

      I think you’re missing the point.  This article refers only to this congress which has been the most unproductive in history.  What else can we expect when Republicans have openly admitted that their one goal is to make Obama fail — a self-centered and thoughtless strategy that hurts all of us.  Admitting that you want a president who inherited the biggest mess  in decades to fail is the same as saying that they don’t care if the country fails.  And they call themselves patriotic.  I’m sure anyone overseas would show more empathy toward the victims of the failed policies of the Bush administration than Republicans have shown.

  • Paul

    The Senate requires 60 percent to end debate and vote on a measure.  In October 2007, before President Obama was elected, the Senate killed the DREAM Act by a vote of 52 to 44.  Yes, 52 Senators were in favor, but 44 had the power to kill the bill.

    http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=110&session=1&vote=00394#position

    This filibuster has been repeated in every session of Congress since 2007.  As long as the minority rules the Senate, We the People lack the power to solve problems.

  • Alexismark241

    that was really helpful.I must say you are great.

    http://www.outsourcefinancework.com

  • S2

    $174,000, a pension, healthcare (and not your run-of-the-mill healthcare), security, et alia, paid for by us with no simple options for removal or for doing something. Couple that with the fact that this congress has out-done Truman’s “do nothing” congress = we find ourselves in a dire, profoundly wrong place. What can we do? What can we do that changes this for the better?

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

August 19 4 Comments

Abandoned Homes In Buffalo, N.Y. Selling For $1

Instead of tearing the homes down, city officials are selling them for $1, as part of the "Urban Homestead Program."

August 19 Comment

A Look At U.S. Military Options In Iraq

Retired Admiral William Fallon, who was head of United States Central Command during the Iraq War, discusses the current conflict.

August 18 37 Comments

More Americans Are Flocking To The South

A New York Times interpretation of census data finds the South is seeing significant in-migration for the first time.

August 18 10 Comments

As Pot Laws Relax, Restrictions On Research Still Tight

The firing of a University of Arizona doctor highlights the complexity and politics of marijuana research.