Citing Faltering Economy, Lawmakers to Forego Cocktails
Washington, D.C., May 19, 2008 -- In a bi-partisan, largely symbolic gesture intended to draw attention to the faltering US economy and its impact on the vanishing middle class, Congress agreed today to no longer provide free booze at government-sponsored events. The BYOB agreement is expected to save American taxpayers up to $291 million annually.
"The booze ban is a drop in the bucket, we know, but what we're hoping is that the policy will trickle down to other agencies at the federal, state and local level, providing a more substantial savings," Congressman Sidney Catts (D-Utah), a sponsor of the measure, said.
The unusual cost-saving plan was inspired by similar measures enacted by the United Nations, the World Bank and the IMF during the latest budget crunch. The savings recouped due to foreign dignitaries bringing their own bottles of dandelion wine, malt liquor, and cloudberry-flavored snaps to receptions quickly allowed those organizations to post their first budget surpluses in decades.
According to calculations prepared by the Government Accountability Office, annual alcohol expenditures for Congressional receptions, inaugurations, staff mixers, page initiations and other gatherings amount to $300 million, with the Senate accounting for nearly half.
"The Senate, as the loftier and more important of the two chambers, generally buys only top-shelf booze: 18-year old single malt Scotch, Bollinger's champagne, vintage wines, imported beer, and so forth, which add up pretty quickly," GAO accountant Pinker Broth said. "The House is more like a fraternity party."
Senator Ted Stevens (R- Alaska), who co-sponsored the plan in the hope of freeing up more earmark money with which to build enormous bridges between uninhabited Alaskan icebergs, said from now on congressmen and senators will be expected to bring their own bottles to government-sponsored receptions.
"BYOB makes no real difference to me," Senator Stevens said. "I always carry a hip flask of Southern Comfort—the guys at ExxonMobil send me a dozen cases every Christmas, which is real friendly—but some people are going to have to adjust to the new system."
The GAO estimated alcohol expenditures of approximately $150 per lawmaker per reception, with an equal amount for each guest (estimated at four per lawmaker), amounting to $600 more, not counting hookers. At 622 receptions per year multiplied by 435 congressmen, plus 100 senators, plus various representatives of useless non-voting territories such as Guam and Puerto Rico, the total rapidly passes the $300 million mark.
"And that's only the Capitol Building," Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said. "Then we have all the embassies, the State Department, about a zillion federal agencies, the works. If we can get this policy enacted throughout the entire federal government, we'd be looking at tens of billions of dollars a year. That savings can be used to help rejuvenate the economy through groundbreaking proposals such as Economic Stimulus Package II: The Sequel, which provides free valet service for the homeless."
In a related measure, Congress voted itself a 19% cost-of-living increase, effective immediately, to compensate for increased out-of-pocket expenses in connection with congressional receptions.
By Ion Zwitter, Avant News Editor
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