Turning The Page

Today John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi — the Speaker of the House and the House Minority Leader, respectively — jointly issued a statement announcing the end of the United States House of Representatives page program.

The House page program began in the 1820s.  In the decades since, thousands of young people have served as pages.  In recent years, however, technology has rendered the pages obsolete.  With the introduction of email, the internet, and smart phones, pages are no longer needed to deliver messages or documents to House members.  Eliminating the program is expected to save more than $5 million a year.

I recognize that there are certain civic attributes to the idea of giving young people firsthand experience with the legislative process.  Nevertheless, I applaud this decision, both because it was done through bipartisan agreement and because it represents exactly the kind of careful evaluation that Congress needs to perform on all federal programs and expenditures during this time of runaway budget deficits.  The savings may not seem like much in an era of trillion-dollar deficits, but small savings can add up — and in any case, why spend even $5 million on an unnecessary program, when most of that money would need to be borrowed?

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