Las Vegas Sun

October 23, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Time to tighten the purse strings

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Every elected federal official — president, senator and member of Congress — has enough personal wealth to survive on a salary of $1 a year until the United States’ fiscal house returns to the “plus” status. In addition, the number of six-figure staff positions, the transportation perks and all other financial benefits demanded by our public servants in Washington should be equally curtailed.

It should be obvious to the most casual observer that as long as legislators and government officials wallow in the luxury of continuous “comfortable” income, there is absolutely no motivation or urgency to do anything about the decaying fiscal condition and controls for which they are responsible.

When you are poor and heavily in debt, it is unrealistic to spend money that you don’t have on exotic travel and gala dinners. For that you need deep pockets full of cash, as our government has by way of taxpayer dollars.

You and I earn $1 and we have $1 to spend. Our government officials don’t earn anything, but they tax a dollar and spend $1.25. You and I measure our expenditures according to our ability to afford them. Our elected officials are willing and able to take as much of our money in order to feed the glut of their own aggrandizement.

The ineptitude on the part of elected officials to come to grips with the responsibility to serve their constituents runs the gamut of federal, state, county and local governments.

As long as Congress is able to control its own purse strings and guarantee members’ salaries and perks, the dream of public servants serving the public might remain just that.

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  1. Future,

    Until both parties stop using 'baseline' budgeting, we will be offered spending cuts that are not really cuts. When spending for a government agency or department is automatically scheduled for a 5 % increase and the increase is reduced to 3 % and that is called a 'cut', we are doomed. This is nonsense.

    Michael

  2. The United States of America has a ONE TRILLION DOLLAR overspending problem every year. We have to deal with it or the fiscal cliff dive will take us to Europe.

    CarmineD

  3. CarmineD says "The United States of America has a ONE TRILLION DOLLAR overspending problem every year"

    We have a deficit problem, not just a spending problem. So, pretending that undertaxing does not contribute anything to the deficit problem ignores reality. According to the Congressional Budget Office, going off the fiscal cliff would reduce the budgret deficit by $590 billion in 2013. Does that appeal to you Carmine?

    The fact is that reducing spending is not simply a matter of having the will to do it. There are consequences to every spending cut. If you want to cut a trillion a year in spending, submit a list of where those cuts will come from. We all need to be careful what we ask for. We might just get it and we probably wouldn't like it.

  4. "We have a deficit problem, not just a spending problem..@ Jim Weber

    US has a deficit and debt problem because we spend more than we have. And do so every year and into the future. Simple math and simple budgeting. You can't spend more than you have year after year without imposing a huge debt on the future generations of Americans. Think Europe. That's where the fiscal cliff dive for Americans is headed.

    CarmineD

  5. "If you want to cut a trillion a year in spending, submit a list of where those cuts will come from. " @Jim Weber

    Simpson-Bowles. 3 to 1 spending cuts to tax increases. I would add one more entitlement to S-B recommendations: Obamacare.

    CarmineD

  6. CarmineD

    "US has a deficit and debt problem because we spend more than we have."

    If you wrote the US has a deficit and debt problem because we spend more than we PAY, I'd agree.

  7. Michael et al:

    The reason the President and the Demas are pushing tax increases over spending cuts is as I explained.

    First, Obama wants to divide the GOP on taxes because he wants cover for mid-terms in 2014 for raising taxes by saying the GOP was on board.

    Second, Obama and the Dems don't want to gut/cut entitlements on their watch. It's unpopular with the people and mid terms are coming.

    I've said what the GOP should do with the fiscal cliff dive. I said give into the President on tax increases on the top 2 percent to save the tax rates on the 98 percent which includes middle and working classes. Then the new Congress and the President can work out the grand bargain next year.

    President can relax the automatic spending cuts and tax rate increases IF HE WANTS as he said in the Presidential Debate with Romney. Recall the President's words: It [sequestration] will not happen. Remember he told the Defense Department not to send out the WARN letters to contractors. The law requires WARN letters mailed 90 days in advance.

    CarmineD

  8. "If you wrote the US has a deficit and debt problem because we spend more than we PAY, I'd agree." @Jim Weber

    And if you said we pay less than we spend I'd agree with you. In either case until the two are the same, pay and spend, we dig ourselves into a bigger hole NOW and in the future. Each taxpayer is on the hook for $60,000, and increasing, of the US debt. Whoever dies before his/her share is paid, passes it onto their heirs.

    CarmineD

  9. If you really want to understand the challenges we're facing with our economy, here are the two most important facts:

    (i) Corporate profits as a percentage of GDP are at a 70-year high.

    (ii) Total wages as a percentage of GDP are at a 70-year low.

    Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-rei...

    The real fiscal cliff we're facing involves staggering income inequality. Spending cuts -- which will involve such things as defunding job training programs and making higher education less attainable -- will make our long-term prospects worse, not better.

    Austerity is not the answer. Rebuilding the middle class is.

  10. Is the letter writer joking or what? In the United States people and businesses spend trillions more than they take in. He obviously doesn't follow private sector debt expansion and bankruptcy statistics in the United States.

    $900 billion an outstanding school loans.

    Close to $800 billion an outstanding credit card debt.

    Our Las Vegas casino industry is sitting on $46 billion in debt.

    123 million emergency room visits this year. In areas like Nevada a huge percentage of the people tht visit emergency rooms refuse to pay a dime.

    Debt, bankruptcy and delinquency are part of the American way of life.

  11. "chance of passage as Carmine admitting he was wrong about Mitt Romney .." @ Jeffery

    Same as you admitting you were wrong on Benghazi.

    CarmineD

  12. The US as a deficit problem because of hyperinflation in medical care. If we brought our medical costs down to the next most expensive nation we would save between $60 trillion and $80 trillion over the next few decades. If you look at all the unfunded liabilities going forward the overwhelming majority of it is in medical care.

  13. The federal government hasn't had a sound balance sheet since 1835.
    Congressional compensation is about what a first-year graduate from atop 14 law school makes. Chicken feed! Try to raise a family and maintain two residences on 150K a year. It is pretty difficult if not impossible. some of these guys sleep on the floors in their office. Great!

    How about paying these guys millions which is what their private sector counterpart would make and maybe we'll get better people.

  14. Comp committees have awarded top-tier private sector executives millions in pay for decades now. They say they have to give these people astronomical amounts of money and compensation to get good people even though executives in other parts of the world make demonstrably less.

    If it takes millions to get a decent private sector executive what makes you think you can get a top-tier public sector administrator for 150K a year?

  15. Jeff.. They do have to pay for a substantial amount of their retirement and healthcare. I don't know where people get this nonsensical information.

  16. Bradley,

    There are a couple of facets to your question.

    First, with regard to requiring pledges from candidates, I know that I would never advocate that, and I doubt very much that the national Executive Committee would do so. The reasons for not doing so are the same as the ones people gave for opposing the Grover Norquist "No tax increase!" pledge. The only pledge that should be required is the one to uphold the Constitution.

    Second, having sensible compensation for members of Congress falls squarely in line with our principle of fiscal responsibility.

    Ultimately, it is up to the membership to decide/approve policy and to select candidates and party leadership who will honor our basic principles. I would expect that any official who ran on one thing, and did the opposite, would find themselves looking elsewhere for support come next election. Also, any person is only as good as their word. If they say they are going to do X, and do Y instead, what good would a "pledge" do?

    All that being said, I don't see national opposing a desire to enact new limits on how Congress sets their compensation, and they might well nudge a policy discussion in that direction.

  17. Congress is going to become the playground for the superrich. No one else will be willing to take the abuse for 150K a year. You will continue to see loopholes that help the rich minimize taxes while at the same time they're going to want waitresses to work until their 70. As it is Congress is seeing more and more mega millionaires and election spending is going into the stratosphere.

    $2 billion for a presidential election. Give me a break. Politicians all over the country are spending millions to secure positions in government. I think Bloomberg spent tens of millions of dollars if not hundreds of millions of dollars to be the mayor of New York. Great system!

  18. Speaking in general, Michael Casler is right to a large degree when he says we have only ourselves to blame. We are the ones who ultimately vote for the creatures in Congress. It is we who allow a relative handful of others to select the choices we have among creatures to vote for.

    If the people want to see different behavior, then the people *must* take an active role in finding candidates and electing them to office.

  19. Contrary to all of the baby whining that's going on I think Congress is giving the American people exactly what they want. Entitlements and low taxes! The deficits are nothing more than a byproduct of the above.
    That's why some of these folks have been in Congress for decades.

  20. zippert1,

    You might very well be correct.

    I can't help but feel that Ike and JFK would not recognize the country today. I am tempted to draw the line between their America and ours today at LBJ and Nixon. LBJ and Nixon, with the Great Society and opening trade with China, made significant strides for their respective parties, but at the same those strides have set on a path of greater and greater division.

  21. "Please also note that Members of Congress have to serve at least 5 years to even receive a pension." Jeffery

    Wrong. They have to serve 5 years to be "vested" in FERS. They [Federal Employees and Congress members] have to be 62 AND eligible for Social Security to receive a reduced pay out from FERS for 5 years service.

    CarmineD

  22. "they have access to dental insurance, vision care, health savings accounts, life and long-term care insurance" @ Jeffery

    The coverage for dental and vision are part of premium coverages and cost Federal employees and Congress more. These are not covered under the standard policies. Long term care is also extra and Federal employees and Congress may opt to take out these policies requiring additional premium payments. Life insurance is extra and also costs Federal employees and Congress extra. None of these health care coverages are part of the job and all these are optional and cost extra.

    CarmineD

  23. Mr. Tobias: could we get this rolling right away? Let's start right now by cutting local, state, and school district compensation down to reasonable levels. Every time a union contract is up, we go with the prevailing wage in PRIVATE INDUSTRY for similar jobs. Step 2 should be done concurrently: enact legislation to limit benefits from any and all government (and non-profit) programs to American citizens. I.D. theft results in deportation or incarceration.