I’m guilty as charged! I traveled to Washington DC last week on the backs of the citizens. And even as I traveled, I was called to task in the media for spending $1,200 of the citizen’s resources unnecessarily which included air fare, hotel, parking and meals. They presumed I had been cavorting around on a recreational junket. I wish that was the case, but it wasn’t. The truth is, I had been traveling with the Chamber of Commerce on its annual trip to meet the Colorado delegation; to meet high ranking officials and feel the blow of hot air.
I wish I had been on a junket. A junket in my mind is a trip to The Beverly Hills Hotel in LA or the Ritz Carlton in Cancun. It’s not a trip to Washington to stay at The Liaison. When you stay at The Beverly Hills Hotel it’s likely you’ll share an elevator with Mick Jagger or share a work-out with Antonio Banderas. I’ve done both. When you stay at the Ritz in Cancun, you expect finely carpeted floors, world class views of the azure Caribbean and a staff that greets you by name. When I checked into The Liaison, my room was carpeted, my view was the grey clad neighboring Hyatt and the only greeting I received was the surprise deposit greeting me in the commode.
Did I learn anything?
I learned that the Department of Health and Human Services is very concerned that folks who are eligible for school lunches are able to identify what orange and green vegetables look like. They didn’t appreciate my bold statement of the obvious, “Most folks, most likely, can tell what color their vegetables are by looking at them.” I learned that I’ll never make it as a Washington bureaucrat – something about common sense.
I learned the national political mood has shifted from chasing Bin Laden to focusing on the economy. Please recall the 1992 presidential election when “It’s the economy, stupid!” elected Bill Clinton. The “it’s the economy” message was exemplified by Lowe’s announcement yesterday. They’re going to slough-off 2,000 jobs. There are real people attached to those jobs; real people with families, kids and likely a dog a cat or a fish. I learned, “after the downturn” [Is that a title from the 1970’s Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young “Harvest” album?] businesses became more efficient, optimizing and maximizing their resources and saving for the next rainy day. That sounds vaguely familiar. It’s also a primary reason for the jobless nature of this recovery. Many of those lost jobs are lost forever. And the really bad news – systemic unemployment – folks who haven’t kept their skills current are out of the game for a long time.
I learned the economy is recovering at a rate of .05% per year. During the 1932 recovery just after the crash from the Great Depression, the economy grew at a rate of 1.3% per year. No wonder this recovery doesn’t feel like a recovery.
I learned that Washington is focused on 4 things right now – 1) jobs; 2) the deficit; 3) security; and 4) the anti-establishment sentiment and what to do about it. I learned that nothing will get done until after the next presidential election and I learned that cutting $1.5 trillion from the debt is not really cutting the debt – it’s really only cutting the increase in spending. Well, I actually already knew that. No wonder there is a pervasive anti establishment sentiment.
I learned that 43 of the 96 Freshman Senators and Congressman had no previous elective experience. Sallie Clark sanguinely pointed out that I actually had more elective experience than they did. There may be hope for us after all. Hmm. Tim Leigh for congress? I’m available in the spring of 2013.