Rank Has Privileges, Even for Dogs.


Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) is a member of the Republican chorus that complains about Amtrak needing a federal subsidy, paltry though it may be. Some time ago, the congressman was distressed to discover that Amtrak would not permit him to board one of their trains with his French bulldog, Lily (above, right). So Rep. Denham tacked an amendment on this year’s funding bill mandating that Amtrak allow dogs and cats and other small pets to travel with their owners.
 
Being a member of Congress must be nice. If you run into something that’s irritating or inconvenient, you just pass a law to make things right. And if that means micro-managing this country’s passenger rail system, so be it. Being able to do that must be heady stuff.
 
I ran across an excellent column the other day by Julianne Malveaux in which she made the same point about Congressman Denham. She takes it a step farther, however, suggesting that perhaps the reason things are screwed up in this country is because the people we send to Washington don’t experience the same problems and frustrations that ordinary folks must contend with on an every day basis. If they did, then some of these problems might actually get fixed!.
 
What would happen, she wonders, if we took away their all their staff people and made these politicians experience a week-long taste of the real world all by themselves?
 

Take House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and leave him in East Oakland, Calif. wearing a hoodie and some jeans. Take Small Business Committee Chair Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and leave him in Fifth Ward Houston with just a few dollars in his wallet. Let Financial Services Chair Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) hang with a homie as his BFF in Ferguson, Mo. Put Darrel Issa (R-Calif.) in a housing project in Los Angeles. Let Homeland Security Chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) spend a little time in New York’s Riker’s where civilization sometimes takes a break. Let Budget Chair Tom Price (R-Ga.) stand in line for a couple of hours to learn about unemployment benefits.

Getting back to the Denham amendment and the requirement that Amtrak accept small pets on their trains, do we have any idea what this is going to COST Amtrak? More to the point, does Rep. Denham? I doubt it. He just wants to be sure he can bring Lily in the event that, at some time in the future, he might want to take an Amtrak train somewhere. It must be nice.