“I hate the term ‘downsizing,’” said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.). “I prefer the terms ‘rightsizing’ or ‘streamlining.’ If we are to preserve this hallowed institution, we need to learn to do more with less.”
Considering that each of the 535 members of Congress earns $174,000 per year, many economists say it would be more cost-effective to replace legislators with contractors, automation or both.
“Congress’ business model was crafted in the 18th century, and isn’t competitive in the fast-paced world of the 21st century,” Ryan added. “Congressional payroll and retirement systems have grown too large to be viable in the long-term, and rightsizing will not only help improve our efficiency, but lay the groundwork for a more effective and less costly legislative enterprise. The American people can no longer afford business as usual on Capitol Hill.”
By increasing the proportionate share of the electorate that each member represents, from 500,000 people to 1 million, Ryan’s proposal will ensure that voters continue to be fairly and equally represented with no noticeable loss in customer service, and slashing congressional operating costs in half.
Once viewed as extreme measures, downsizing, streamlining, restructuring and other dramatic workplace changes are now considered “normal” business practices. Retail giant Macy’s recently announced it will lay off 2,500 of its employees and computer giant Dell is expected to lay off 20 percent of its 113,000 employees soon.
Thankfully, several Members of Congress have seen the handwriting on the wall. Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) and Frank Wolf (D-Va.), as well as Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and 14 others have announced their intention to retire this year.
Reaction among House members to Ryan’s proposal has been muted, though an estimated 80 percent of Congress has now joined the Congressional “Wait and See Caucus.”
“This process won’t be easy – I recognize that,” Ryan added. “But this is what it means to be a leader. We’re all in this together, and the best way to demonstrate our commitment to a better enterprise is to send half of Congress home.”