Is your home in foreclosure? I have the perfect solution if you're a government worker: Sleep in your office! If members of Congress can put a free roof over their head at the taxpayers' expense, why shouldn't you?
People who make $174,000 a year, in addition to whatever else that their spouses rake in, or their investments, should not be crying poverty, but, apparently, we have a problem of significant enough measure in this country that our politicians are now joining the ranks of Washington D.C.'s homeless.
A watchdog group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sent a letter to the House Ethics Office protesting the free ride that thirty-three of its members, twenty-six Republicans and seven Democrats, are receiving by turning their offices into dorm rooms.
"Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to investigate whether members of Congress who sleep in their offices are violating House rules. CREW also asked the OCE to determine whether these members are violating tax law by failing to report lodging as a taxable fringe benefit. "
The Members' Handbook, given to all House members, states that the Member Representational Allowance may not be used for personal expenses such as housing. In addition, living in a House office violates the prohibition of using taxpayer resources for anything outside of the performance of official duties. We covered our congressmen's daytime activities. Where they sleep, eat, and shower are not for the public dole. Let them rent housing, even in groups, like the rest of the congressmen.
There is a question about its tax status which members using their offices as housing are apparently not asking the IRS to rule on. Lodging is a taxable fringe benefit unless it is offered on the employer's business premises, it is for the employer's convenience, and is required as a condition of employment.
CREW argues that members are not required to live on Capitol Hill, just work there. Therefore, the perquisite of receiving free housing in their office is a taxable expense, as opposed to leasing a condo or paying a mortgage, both of which have positive tax benefits.
The living arrangements have added additional costs to operating our House. Superintendent of House Office Buildings Bill Weidemeyer told CREW that there are additional housekeeping expenses. Congressmen complaining about overnight construction noise have delayed maintenance and improvement projects, also adding expense.
Lawrence O'Donnell skewered Colorado congressman Jason Chaffetz on his "The Last Word," on this subject this week:
Chaffetz, when pressed by O'Donnell, said that he would not seek an advisory opinion on turning the House into a boarding house.
There are a handful of Tea Party congressmen who are taking this further, giving back a chunk of their salary, opting out of the Cadillac Congressional health plan, and even printing up their own letterhead at their expense. The majority of the dormers, though, are just sleeping in their office as their sign of rebellion, penance, or thrift.
They are banking on the fact that Fox News viewers, who watch hours of stupid stunts on TV where contestants walk narrow beams and fall into vats of cream cheese for fun and prizes, will find their well-publicized stoicism is a demonstration that they are "walking the walk."
Unfortunately, breaking the law by way of the tax code is not a good start. Nor is getting a free hand-out when you are criticizing others for doing exactly the same thing.
So what is the solution? Well, if you're a Republican, charity, not the state, solves all. So I've written a short commercial for a charity which GOP partisans should start-up:
"Hi, I'm Ann Coulter. You know, every day, a Republican member of Congress trying to slash the budget and keep the government out of the hands of those Commie liberals is working so hard that their six-figure salary is just not enough."
Victoria Jackson: "That's why we started Dwellings for Douchebags."
Bill O'Reilly: "In association with Fox News and Georgia-Pacific, DD builds homes so that poor Colorado Tea Party congressmen like Jason Chaffetz here can keep a roof over his head while he's working hard to take the roofs away from the heads of hundreds of thousands of other government employees."
Rush Limbaugh: "Because congressmen who want to cut the government dole to freeloading civil service employees in our fat bureaucracy"
Tom DeLay: "Shouldn't be living off of the government dole themselves." (Prison door closes).
Right now, these Congressmen are living on your tax money without your consent. Write them, and visit their facebook and Twitter accounts to ask them if they will get an IRS ruling on their living arrangements, and pay for any infractions as well as move out of our House into one of their own:
Reps. Dan Boren (D-OK), John Carney (D-DE), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Hansen Clarke (D-MI), Sean Duffy (R-WI), Stephen Fincher (R-TN), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Tim Griffin (R-AR), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Luis Guittierez (D-IL), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Joe Heck (R-NV), Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Bill Johnson (R-OH), James Lankford (R-OK), Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Ben Quayle (R-AZ), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Todd Rokita (R-IN), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Paul Ryan (R-WI), David Schweikert (R-AZ), Steve Stivers (R-OH), John Sullivan (R-OK), Joe Walsh (R-IL), Todd Young (R-IN), and Tim Walberg (R-MI).
Otherwise, you're just allowing sleeping congressmen the ability to continue to lie.
My shiny two.
Follow Brian Ross on Twitter: www.twitter.com/theclevertwit