LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Leaders should share in sacrifices

Apr 19, 2011


The tea party promises fiscal responsibility. House Speaker John Boehner trumpets the $38 billion reduction in spending as real and significant. Given the fact that the federal government spends about $11 billion per day, the cuts amount to less than four days of expense. Duly elected officials talk about what great concerted effort was made to effect these reductions. What an utter mendacity. The emperor has no new clothes.

Resources are finite. We must begin realistic discussion about the specific services we want government to provide, how the government can be more efficient at delivering the services we agree on, and how we will pay for them. This will require honest and brave leadership as opposed to obfuscation from politicians whose main goal is to remain in power.

There is a saying, “Physician heal thyself.” It is time for Congress to do just that. Here’s how:

• Pass legislation that requires an immediate 10 percent  pay cut for all elected and appointed federal government officials. Said legislation also mandates they no longer enjoy special retirement and health care benefits, but participate in the same benefit programs offered to civil service employees.
• Said legislation also requires that if after two years Congress fails to produce a balanced  budget, this same group will have wages cut an additional 2 percent. This process will continue until we do have a balanced budget.
• Said legislation also mandates no elected or appointed federal government official or their immediate family members may receive any income whatsoever from lobbying, either directly or indirectly, for a time equal to their tenure in government service. Violators would be subject to significant fines and imprisonment.

Passage of this legislation would demonstrate our  leaders are truly willing to make tough choices, to share in the sacrifices required to achieve fiscal responsibility, and accept pay for performance. Then we might be able to believe in them as we move on to more difficult debates on larger issues.

— Phil Spahr, Grand Haven


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