David Bonior Has Been Doing it Wrong for Most of His Life

Wouldn’t it be nice if our legislators, those who write the laws that we live under but they often don’t, would know what those laws will do before they write and pass them? Liberal Democrat David Bonior spent 26 years in Washington “serving” Michigan as the media tells it, which means he spent those decades there passing laws telling the rest of us what to do.


Now that he has left government, he has finally started to learn that government can be more of a problem than a solution.

He has invested at least $1 million, by my estimate, building two family-owned Washington restaurants, the second of which, Agua 301, is near Nationals Park and only a line drive from the Anacostia River. His first eatery, Zest Bistro, opened on Capitol Hill four years ago.

“It’s the American Dream,” he said of his new career.

Over tasty Caesar salad and tacos at Agua 301, the mild-mannered, thoughtful Bonior — chastened by local regulators and fickle weather — sounds more born-again capitalist than fire-breathing lefty.

“Small-business people work very hard,” said the 68-year-old, who has spent most of his life in government. “If you are a small-business guy, you are out there and not as protected as a government employee. They struggle every day. A snow day, a government worker is off. A restaurant person takes a hit from that snow day. This winter was very, very tough on the [restaurant] industry.”

Instead of fires, he spends most of his time worrying about the weather, the availability of limes or the price of avocados as he chases after those elusive profits.

“There are always going to be problems, and we’ve had our share.”

Bonior said if he had the power, he would lighten up on pesky regulations.

“It took us a ridiculous amount of time to get our permits. I understand regulations and . . .the necessity for it. But we lost six months of business because of that. It’s very frustrating.”

“The biggest surprise is how you have to hustle,” he said. “It was an eye-opener. I always heard this when I was in Congress. ‘You should try and own a business someday, Bonior.’ So I own two small businesses with my stepson and daughter-in-law. It’s tough to make it, in terms of profit margins. But somehow you get by and you figure it out.”


The 68-year-old is surprised that he has to “hustle” — to work hard and think creatively — now that he is out of government?

That’s just sad.

And wait until he gets a full load of Obamacare.


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