Senate barber shop “institution” runs $300,000 deficit in 2011

It’s open to the public, charges $20 for a trim, netted $450,000 – with a profit – in 2009, and yet somehow this institution needed a Senate-funded bailout of $300,000 last year? Goodness grief, shut the damn institution down.

Two years ago, the Washington Whispers column in US News & World Report noted the Senate barber shop turned a profit, the most since 2000.

Not everything the Senate does gives taxpayers a haircut. Take the barbershop, technically called Senate Hair Care. For about $20, senators, staff, and visitors who know about it can get a professional coif. We’re told that the 11 hairstylists and other staff are so popular that the office has just turned its highest profit in 10 years. Income for the shop, which typically nets $450,000, popped up 5.6 percent, or $25,290, last year.

Back in 1997, there was talk of privatizing the barber shop but the idea went nowhere in the Senate, and current GOP candidate for president Sen. Rick Santorum had something to say about it. Again, the deficit noted below was mentioned in 1997. My emphasis in bold.

Not surprisingly, there was a $360,000 operating deficit in the fiscal year that ended Oct. 1 – the latest in a succession of annual deficits that stretch back to the 1970s and have deepened in the 1990s.

The House of Representatives privatized its hair-care services in 1995, saving more than $100,000 a year. But members of the Senate Rules Committee decided Oct. 30 to continue subsidizing the Senate shop.

Sen. Rick Santorum, a Republican member of the Rules Committee from Pennsylvania, has argued in favor of privatizing the shops, but says persuading the other senators to go along has been a struggle.

“When your barber has you in the chair, and he says, `You’re not going to cut my job, are you?’ what are you going to say?” Santorum said.

This past year, they lost almost $300,000.

The barbershop ran almost $300,000 in the red last year but received an infusion from Senate coffers that is keeping it in business, the Senate sergeant at arms, Terrance Gainer, told The Daily.

The current barbers are federal employees and unionized. Compared to Capitol Barber, a local privately owned business three blocks away from the Senate, the Senate’s operation pays double the real-world rate.

Capitol’s four barbers and stylists made $22,000 to $30,000 last year with no benefits, manager Lynn Dang said. At the Senate barbershop, formally called Senate Hair Care Services, the top four barbers and stylists made more than twice that — $54,761; $70,349; $73,658; and $81,641 — plus they have a generous 401(k) plan, health care and paid vacation. In all, the government contributed $230,000 in benefits for the barbershop, said Eve Goldsher, a spokeswoman for the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Gainer acknowledged the barbershop’s staff members “are well paid, and it gives them a leg up on their nongovernment counterparts.”

Regardless of where they stand on lending the barbershop a financial hand, senators agree the barbershop is first rate.

Oh really? I can’t find any reviews on the Senate Barber Shop on the Yelp website, even though it’s open to the public. I can’t even find their website.

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Steve McGough

Steve's a part-time conservative blogger. Steve grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas. He resides in Connecticut, where he’s comfortable six months of the year.


  1. johnboy111 on February 13, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    there is no place we can cut the budget..less someone is disenfranchised

  2. GdavidH on February 13, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    I did the math really quick. Consider, for the sake of simplicity,?if all the barbershop does is “trims” for $20, and is open 6 days a week, that’s about 70-75 cuts per day. Not unreasonable. The big question is, if they made a profit in 2009 but lost a pantload in 2012, what changed? Hmmm. Perhaps they are paying out more than comes in?

    Yup…That sounds like our government.?

  3. johnboy111 on February 13, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    thank God they are not in charge of……………oh wait they are??

  4. Tim-in-Alabama on February 14, 2012 at 8:53 am

    The Senate is making cuts by giving them another $300,000 … hair cuts. Get it. BWAHAHAHAHAHA …. HAHA … *hack, cough, gasp*… haha … heh. *sigh*

  5. SeeingRed on February 14, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Only ($300,000)?? Nice job.? If the rest of the fed were this efficient, we could almost afford OhZer0’s spending schedule for another decade before the cliff.

    I wonder if John Edwards opted for the barber shop services?or if he still preferred his own ‘guy’ at $250/clip?? How many use this vs. thier own personal/private cutter?? Makes me sick.?

  6. Murphy on February 14, 2012 at 9:30 am

    They have to pay that, imagine how tough it must be to control yourself when you have a straight razor in your hand and a politician in your chair. Talk about cutting big government.? 8-0

    • GdavidH on February 14, 2012 at 5:42 pm

      That’s a good reason?NOT to privatize. Keep it gov’t run, with unionized gov’t employees. Give them whatever they want. They won’t bite the hand that feeds them.?

    • Dimsdale on February 14, 2012 at 8:09 pm

      So it is really “protection money”??? 😉

    • Murphy on February 15, 2012 at 8:57 am

      90% of all federally spent funds are.

    • GdavidH on February 15, 2012 at 5:20 pm

      Making them offers they can’t refuse!

  7. NH-Jim on February 14, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    You see, folks, I don’t need a barber for I have ripped all the hair out of my head!!!
    Just for kicks, here are the average salaries for barbers across the country that I’ve found:
    Washington DC:? $58k
    Hartford, CT:? $51k
    LA, CA: $48k
    Boston, MA:? $53k
    Miami, FL:? $42k
    Columbus, OH:? $44k
    Dallas, TX:? $52k
    St Paul, MN: $50k

  8. Lynn on February 15, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Nope, no way to cut the budget that I can see.

  9. JBS on February 15, 2012 at 9:22 am

    We are getting scalped by the Senate Hair Care!
    Unions, says it all.


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