Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) was a regular at Jack Abramoff’s skybox at sporting events and guided his aides and family members to lucrative consulting jobs. But evidently those perks weren’t enough. Since he entered office in 1991, he has tried to boost lawmakers’ compensation and benefits. Doolittle argued members of Congress should have:
— “a corps of staff to assist the members, to perform routine tasks such as rides to airports, pickups, deliveries, etc;”
— “an additional automobile” to use around the nation’s capital; and
— government-funded moving expenses when they relocate to Washington, DC.
Doolittle’s spokesman, Dan Blackenburg, tried to justify the congressman’s efforts:
“He thinks that Members of the House, the staff and all federal employees should have the same benefits that all Americans are insured with,” Blankenburg said, pointing out that federal employees, for example, currently don’t receive a dental or vision benefit.
Doolittle needs to get out of Abramoff’s skybox and talk to some real Americans. 41 percent of the American middle-class didn’t even have basic health insurance for part or all of 2005 and only 29 percent of companies now offer dental and vision benefits. (Statistics on how many Americans have a personal “corps of staff” to “perform routine tasks” were unavailable.)
Doolittle and his spokesman also need to check his federal health insurance program. While most plans don’t offer vision and dental benefits, some do. (New enhanced dental and vision benefits will also be offered to federal employees in the fall.)