CONGRESS AT WORK, A DOSE OF REALITY
THE ONE THING YOU CAN BE SURE YOUR COBGRESSMAN STANDS FOR IS THAT OF
GETTING ELECTED.--P.J. O'Rouke, from "The Parliment of Whores".
The account of how Congress through its
appropriation power and use of committees runs our bureaucracy and guides the production of contractors is revealed in the
example of McDonnell Douglas C-17, the giant military cargo transport plane. Over and over gain on programs such as "60
Minutes" we learn of Congress failures in the area of supervision. David Segals article exposes its mechanism.
ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF FAILURE
1. Each branch of the military is seeking a bigger
chunk of the federal budget. They thus exaggerate the need, effectiveness, and costs of weapon systems. Since they don't
control the purse strings
2. Like the military, contractor also exaggerate the costs and effectiveness and delivery
date of the system they are developing.
3. Congressmen have objectives which are inconsistent with their role of
regulating the working of government
OPERATIONS AND CONFLICTS:
a. Many of those on the committee have
a vested interest in funding programs good for the industry they are regulating, because that industry is a major employer
in their district/state.
b. Those who lobby for an industry as well as individual corporations are permitted
to make substantial election contributions. Those who pay the piper select the tune.
c. Congressmen are more
concerned with getting into the press than performing their oversight duties.
d. Hearings resemble product commercials,
rather than investigation of expenditures.
e. Peer pressure to get along.
f. Back scratching; VIZ.,
I vote for your bill, you vote for mine.
g. Industries are permitted to make donations to them for reelection,
to given them plane tickets, honoraria, and other gifts.
h. As long as a single committee is supposed to provide
funding and oversight, then any exposure of abuse smears themselves (who do the funding).
The political realities
give Congress a different agenda. There are 247 committees and 127,000 staff employees. Each Congressman sits on several
committees. Most of the efforts of this staff has little to do with exposing and correcting the problems connected to the
function of the particular oversight committee.
Given that over half of the work time a Congressman spends is
in activites related to getting votes, there is little time left for the several committes they belong to, other than attending
their meatings and reading prepared statements into the record (JK's addition).
Since the military does not control
the purse strings, they tend to work with the contractors in their deceptions rather than to expose them, for to expose them
could result in the cutting of funding for a weapons system.
Congress role should be to obtain the best possible
armament for the percentage of the federal budget so allocated, and in particular to serve the best interests of all the people
within the traditionally established limits.
Things have changed since the World War Two. The press is much less
interested in exposure of abuse in government--measured by television news content. Exposing abuse is thus not nearly so
effective in producing name recognition, as it was in Truman's time. And being not so effective entails that as per reelction
the rewards are much less.