New Congress: Invasion of the Body Snatchers?

There are 95 first-time members of the House of Representatives and 16 new members of the Senate. Some of them have sworn not to go native. Not to be seduced by the power and trappings (and perks) of being an elected official in Washington.

In a way they are like Earthlings (that would be us) in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. That is they fear they be lulled to sleep by the Inside The Beltway culture, and wake up as alien Pod People. But the politician-Earthlings are only human and the Pod People are so good at what they do.

Are the new members of Congress doomed to lose their values and come over to what they now consider to be the dark side?

A lot of the newcomers campaigned, and won, opposing big government although that can mean different things to different people.


One brand-new Senator said during a TV interview, that if he could accomplish two things (I forget what they are) he would go home tomorrow. Maybe so. But what if it takes him two or three years, or his full 6-year term, to achieve his goals? Meantime he’s hit a lot of Embassy parties, been invited to dine at the White House, gotten good seats at the Kennedy Center and discovered the joys of taxpayer-financed fact-finding tours of war-torn cities like Paris, London and Rome.

How many of the class of 2010 will, end the end, go native? And what’s in it for you?

Over the years politicians have run against Washington, then spent the next three or four decades desperately trying to get elected because, face it, we’ve got more Starbucks and a better subway system than Little Rock or Des Moines. Also, while the politicians may not get any respect at home – either their home state or their house homes when asked to take out the trash – they get lots here. Respect that is! It is fun being a member of the House and even more fun being a Senator. In recent years, more Senators, like Popes and Kings, choose to expire rather than retire.

Many of the new team are pushing for tough new controls over government, ranging from an extended 5 year pay freeze to a 15 percent job cut. They will also consider making feds pay more for their benefits.

Right now, while they are still untainted by Washington, many of the new members of Congress are starting to learn a lot. And some of the numbers they learn may surprise them. As in how many active and retired feds live in their states. And how angry/frightened/offended they are by the anti-fed rhetoric.

So where are the feds? Virginia and Maryland have more than 600,000 and most politicians (regardless of political party) are aware of those numbers. But Texas has over 300,000 active and retired feds, and California more than 400,000. North Carolina’s got 112,000 and South Carolina more than 60,000. Then there are Pennsylvania (182,000) and Illinois (135,000). Or Alabama with 91,000 feds. You get the idea. Lots of people, all of them old enough to vote, whose oxes are being gored.

So what’s the fed family population of your state? And is this the sort of thing you might want to bring to the attention of your newly-elected Senator or Representative? If so, click here to check out a dynamite feds-by-state interactive map from Federally Employed Women.

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Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

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