The recent retirement from Congress of venerable Democrat Henry Waxman is just the latest of a surprisingly long list of departures  of senior California congressmen. One reporter calculated that California has lost 400 years of Congressional experience from these two most recent election cycles.

Recent retirees comprise veterans from both parties, serving in influential positions both formally as committee chairmen or as confidantes of House leadership. Besides Waxman, other recent or announced retirements (including forced retirements) include George Miller (D), Buck McKeon (R), Howard Berman (D), Jerry Lewis (R), David Dreier (R), Dan Lungren (R), and Pete Stark (D), among many others.

But what has all this Congressional seniority really gotten for California? In living memory, the delegation has been nothing but fractious, rarely coalescing to pitch for California’s needs, whether to solve the fraught Delta water mess or retain military installations or defense contracts – just to name a few.

Although California enjoyed senior members in the House of Representatives, the sad fact is that it rarely manifested in a relative improvement in California’s advantages vis-a-vis other states. Though data was only collected through 2004, this chart from the California Institute tells the story of the effectiveness of the California Congressional Delegation.

California Balance of Payments