Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Congressional Leaders Beware: Part I

I know, I know - I'm neither a political nor financial expert.  I'm just a P.O.'d patriot who was raised on common sense ... the lacktherof which seems to be a serious handicap in the other Washington.  Lov-er-ly.  Like everyone, I was pretty miffed with the stalemate in D.C. this last week.  OK, I was downright offended.  I keep hearing commentators express frustrations over "a Republican Party that is increasingly more radical and a Democratic Party that has lost it's vision."  That's funny - 20 years ago we heard complaints in the form of the reverse.  Let's face it people: politicians are, by their very nature, corrupt.  They make campaign promises to get elected.  Period.  And this particular generation of ::ahem:: representatives seems more interested in ruling the people than governing them.  They just can't agree on how to do it.  And big surprise, they're holding the American public hostage to get what they want.  Twice this year they have threatened default and/or shutdown only to to provide a solution at the last possible minute.  Don't be fooled, peeps - they're just yanking your chain and creating panic in order to gain sympathy.

Yes, I am very opinionated about the activities in D.C., particularly surrounding our national budget.  Honestly, I don't see how they can look at us with empathetic cow eyes over cutting social security (or Medicare/Medicaid, or reducing the pay of government workers) when they're bringing home $200K annually.  Each.  Times 435.  Remind me again, what's the median American income?  Oh yeah, $46K.  So big surprise that a bunch of people making 4X that may not really be in touch with how much a 3% cut could hurt the rest of us.

You know, there was a time when a congressional position was seasonal ... representatives were only paid a stipend while congress was in session.  Perhaps we should return to that.  If they run over, perhaps it would be prudent to motivate them by keeping it on their own time, outside clearly defined special sessions (such as addressing a state of emergency or an act of war).  I wouldn't be opposed to setting up an account to cover their flights to and from their home states (coach, of course) at the beginning and end of each session.  Or even to establish seasonal dormitories to house them.  Perhaps our representatives need to be kept grounded by the necessity of maintaining a regular job - in their home state.  And don't even get me started on the congressional gym ... "cost kept secret for reasons of national security"?!  Yeah, I'll tell you the threat they're worried about: that the people will revolt as they did in France 200 years ago.

And what about our president?  Certainly as commander-in-chief I agree that his position should be full-time permanent.  But does he seriously need to earn $400K plus free room & board plus a $50K annual expense account plus a $100K non-taxable travel expense account plus an additional $19K for "entertainment"?  I mean, when an increasing percentage of the population is homeless our humble leader essentially gets to play with $600K at his discretion ...?  Yes, he is supposedly the most powerful man in the world, but considering the circumstances, is this a necessity?

Since he is commander-in-chief, I suggest that it would be appropriate that he take a 50% paycut - after all, he'd still be making the same as an O-10 (General) with 25 years of service.  Place his travel expenses and annual expenses back in the hands of a White House Treasurer.  This is the people's money, after all: there needs to be more accountability, not to mention a tad more stinginess.

Everyone tells me that these changes wouldn't even be a drop in the bucket.  Well, in comparison to the national deficit, they're right.  But it's the precedent that matters.  Our leaders need to be reminded of what it means to lead by example.  So first off, I propose that then next time they approach a default deadline, it be their paychecks that get cut, not those of our servicemen and women or our geriatric retirees.
I swear, this last crisis has in my mind resurrected the stinging words of Marie Antoinette: "Let them eat cake!"

Tune in soon for my starter solution to the healthcare crisis in America ...

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