Why Democrats Often Deregulate

My former employer, the United States Senate, will–at long last–turn over its dinning facilities to a private contractor. Anyone who has ever had to eat the swill served at Senate dinning facilities will realize this represents an enormous step forward. On the House side of the U.S. Capitol, the cafeterias are clean, profitable, and serve good food. On the Senate side, they’re dirty, subsidized by the taxpayers, and serve lousy food.

The Senate Democrats are going to fight about it, pull out their hair, and probably make a few compromises. But they’re going to do it. Over the next few years, this will taxpayers a few million dollars and make life better for Senate staff. A few workers will lose their jobs and new hires will no longer get the rather plush federal benefits package. But Republicans–and I’m a very loyal Republican–never managed to do this in when we controlled the Senate for 11 of the 12 years between 1994 and 2006.

Democrats have no ideological commitment to deregulate or privatize which, actually, makes it easier for them to do it. For Republicans, privatizing the dinning services would mean picking a fight with unions that already hated them. (We should have done it anyway.) For Democrats, it’s asking a favor to a friend. (Please don’t protest! Please! We’ll force everyone to join your union next year. We promise.)

Democrats, of course, will likely spend few million they save to subsidize crystal healing and ethanol-powered monorails to nowhere. But, well, you can’t win them all.