One of the first things you learn upon becoming a political journalist in Washington is that, if you happen to be covering an event on Capitol Hill around lunchtime, you want to go out of your way to eat on the House side rather than the Senate side. Whereas the House cafeterias are pretty good, the Senate cafeterias are to be avoided like the plague.
A few times I've wondered why this is, and today the Washington Post provides the answer: The House cafeterias are privatized, while the Senate's are run by...the Senate, which, shockingly, turns out not to be the world's best restauranteur. In addition to serving awful food, the Senate's restaurants have lost more than $18 million since 1993, including $2 million this year alone. But this state of affairs is about to change. Prompted by Senate Rules Committee chair Dianne Feinstein, the Senate voted last week to privatize its restaurant services, overcoming objections from liberal Democrats:
In a closed-door meeting with Democrats in November, [Feinstein] was practically heckled by her peers for suggesting it, senators and aides said.
"I know what happens with privatization. Workers lose jobs, and the next generation of workers make less in wages. These are some of the lowest-paid workers in our country, and I want to help them," Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a staunch labor union ally, said recently. The wages of the approximately 100 Senate food service workers average $37,000 annually.
It's a sad day for liberalism when people like Brown argue that the best way to help the American worker is for the Senate to subsidize crappy food.