Unrestrained government spending and a mushrooming federal deficit have reached such a level that even entrenched bureaucrats should be concerned about the stability of their jobs. Indeed, there is a lot of talk coming out of Washington about cost-cutting and requiring departments to operate with less expense.
But, based on past experience, many wonder if the concerns being expressed are real or feigned. Americans have learned to regard pronouncements by politicians cynically and probably suspect that this cost-cutting talk is just more spurious govenmentese calculated to pacify the public.
But, if officials in our nation’s capital are truly interested in reducing expenses, there are numerous ways it can be done without lessening governmental effectiveness. Economists have identified billions of dollars that could be saved by eliminating unnecessary government functions. One function that could be eliminated without any negative consequences is the Office of the First Lady.
The first 22 wives of our 44 presidents did not have assistants. In fact, it wasn’t until 1890 that Caroline Harrison, wife of Benjamin Harrison, began using her niece as her social secretary, primarily because of the debilitating effects of the disease that would kill Mrs. Harrison while her husband was still in office. In the years following the Harrison administration, first ladies managed with either no assistants or possibly one or two. Even one of our most active first ladies, Eleanor Roosevelt, had only two assistants. But when Hillary Clinton became First Lady, she created a full-time staff of 22, plus 15 interns and volunteers. It has now become de rigueur for first ladies to not only have large staffs, but to pay six figure salaries for their assistants.
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