Senate Printing Costing Taxpayers
Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 10:22 PM EDT
Inside Washington's beltway, politics permeates that smallest of empty spaces, and even that costs taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. Despite living in the digital age Congress, at times, operates as if it were 1861, the year the government printing office was born.
The paperless society heralded with the computer age need not apply to Capitol Hill. Lawmakers print with the restraint of a child in a candy store with a 50 dollar bill and no parental oversight. Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union says, "the total figure would easily exceed $100 million a year." Lawmakers and congressional staffers print under many different categories and methods. Outside of the Capitol, there is simply no way to nail down the exact figure.
In 2009, the Congressional Research Service says the government printing office of GPO spent $233 to print a single page, one page of the congressional record. An official record of debates and proceedings that is printed everyday Congress is in session. The information is online, but 2800 copies are still requested every day at a cost of about $8 million a year.
Tom Schatz, President of Citizens Against Government Waste, says during his six years on Capitol Hill the congressional record was thrown in the trash before a word was read. In 2011, the house unanimously passed the "Overprinting Stop Act." It would have saved taxpayers $35 million over the next decade. The Senate refused to bring it up for vote, and Schatz knows why.
The government printing office employs about 1900 people, down from about 8000 in the 1970's. In Pete Sepp's view, the solution sits on nearly every desk at the Capitol. A computer and inexpensive printer has worked wonders for the National Taxpayers Union.