Senate Votes To Privatize Its Failing Restaurants
Washington Post -- Year after year, decade upon decade, the U.S. Senate's network of restaurants has lost staggering amounts of money -- more than $18 million since 1993, and an estimated $2 million this year alone.
The financial condition of the world's most exclusive dining hall and its affiliated Capitol Hill restaurants, cafeterias and coffee shops has become so dire that, without a $250,000 subsidy from taxpayers, the Senate won't make payroll next month.
The embarrassment of the Senate food service struggling like some neighborhood pizza joint has quietly sparked change previously unthinkable for Democrats. Last week, the Senate voted to privatize the operation of its food service, a decision that would, for the first time, put it under the control of a contractor.
The House is expected to agree -- its food service operation has been in private hands since the 1980s -- and President Bush's signature on the bill would officially more than four decades of taxpayer bailouts.
Operation of the House cafeterias was privatized in the 1980s by a Democratic-controlled Congress. Restaurant Associates of New York, the current House contractor, would take over the Senate facilities this fall. The company wins high praise from most staffers and lawmakers, who say they are pleased with the wide variety of new items offered every few months.
Restaurant Associates turns a substantial profit -- paying $1.2 million in commissions to the House since 2003. By one estimate, Restaurant Associates would turn a large profit in the Senate within three years and would begin paying about $800,000 annually in commissions.
Bottom Line: The difference between capitalism and socialism? Capitalism works.
(HT: Travis Walker)