Tuesday, February 15, 2011

CONGRESS: Doing the Wrong Things for the Right Reasons

There is a Washington Post piece by Ben Pershing that perfectly illustrates one of my pet peeves about Congress: they don't take their own security seriously.  Let me use this quote and then explain what I mean...
Yet even in this climate of austerity, one category of Capitol Hill spending is actually going up - security. 
In the wake of last month's shootings in Tucson that severely wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), keeping members and their staffs safe has become a bigger priority. So as other accounts are pared back, the Capitol Police budget would actually go up under the Republican plan by $12.5 million, to a total of $340 million. 

Part of the increase is attributable to an unexpected budget shortfall that was discovered last year and part is due to "an increase in agents as a result of the tragic shooting in Tucson," the Appropriations Committee said last week.
First of all, increasing the budget of the Capitol Police would NOT have prevented the shooting in Tucson, so using that as a justification is just crazy.  Unless all Members of Congress are going to STAY in Dee Cee...and as appealing as that might sound to some, I don't think that is very likely.
What might have made some difference in Tucson is if Rep. Giffords took her personal security more seriously.  By all accounts I have seen, Team Giffords had absolutely no security measures in place at the event.  That is making a mockery of personal security and no amount of Capitol Police budget increases will fix that.  Awhile back, a local (Ohio) Member of Congress was out jogging -- all by themselves -- at O-Dark-Thirty and got hit by a car.  Equally dumb in my book.

I'm not saying that Secret Service protection out to be extended to all Members of Congress, but I do think there are things that Congresspeople ought to be doing that would increase their security while still keeping the need for constituent interaction.  Personal safety needs to be taken far more seriously than it is today.