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Estimate: GOP’s symbolic reading of Constitution to cost taxpayers $1.1 million

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It will cost taxpayers over $1 million dollars for Republicans to recite the entire United States Constitution on the House floor Thursday.

In a year when Republicans have promised to reduce wasteful spending, it is estimated that reciting the Constitution will cost $1,071,872.87 if it takes three hours to read the document.

“When one chamber of Congress is in session but not working, we the people still have to pay for members’ salaries and expenses, and for their police protection, and for keeping their lights and phones and coffee machines on,” Peter Keating explained to Vanity Fair.

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“To get this estimate, I took the total FY 2011 costs for House salaries and expenses and House office buildings, then added half the costs of joint House-Senate expenses, the CBO, the Capitol Police and the Capitol power plant,” he continued. “Then I divided that sum by 205, the number of days the House was in session last year, then divided again by 24 (the number of hours in a day) and multiplied by 3 (the estimated length in hours of members reading the Constitution).”

Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said on Tuesday that his party plans to cut $100 billion in spending this year. GOP leadership has said cuts to the US defense budget are out of the question, making key safety-net programs like Medicare, food stamps and Social Security the sole target of their legislative agenda.

“They humor people who are not expert or not fully cognizant,” Kevin Gutzman, a history professor at Western Connecticut State University and conservative libertarian, told The Salt Lake Tribune.

“And then once they’ve humored them and those people go away, it’s right back to business as usual,” he added. “It looks like this will be business as usual – except for the half-hour or however long it takes to read the Constitution out loud.”

Along with cutting spending, Republicans have promised to scrap “job-killing” health care laws, crack down on illegal immigration, cut diplomatic and foreign aid funds, and investigate the Obama administration.

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The Congressional Budget Office has estimated a repeal of Obama’s health reform laws would cost the US $1.2 trillion over the next 20 years.

Though Republicans said they will reduce spending by requiring cost-saving measures for all new fund outlays, they exempted a potential repeal of health care reform from the rule.

“They’re going to employ budget gimmicks to try and hide the cost of their actions,” Rep Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) said during a press conference yesterday. “What they are going to try to do is engage in Enron-type accounting to say that when they try and move to repeal health care a week from tomorrow, that the hit on the deficit will not matter.”

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