A Modest Proposal for Congress (and the President): Eat Your Own Cooking

We’re at a point in history where the relative popularity of our elected officials is at an all time low (I will reserve that comment to Washington). Most Americans (by some measures, over 90%) are dissatisfied with the performance of Washington. The handling of the debt ceiling, the squabbling over the simple extension of the payroll tax cut, the impotence of the ‘Super-committee’ all are telling tales of the inability of Washington to agree on anything. Normally, I’m a fan of gridlock, since gridlock forces concession and agreement. Generally, agreement is only a little bad and a little good, but not terrible.

However, there are storm clouds on the horizon, and I’m surprisingly not referring to the November election, although that certainly is a storm cloud. On December 31, 2012, the Bush Tax Cuts expire. This raises the tax on virtually every taxpayer in the US. The ones hit the hardest are working families in low and moderate income brackets. High bracket individuals don’t fare too well either. When I recalculate

Mitt Romney’s tax if the Bush cuts expire, his taxes double. And that’s just the income tax: the estate tax kicks back in on estates over $1 million, versus the $5 million now. Then, the very next day, the sequestration budget cuts (mandated by the inaction of the super-committee) kick in, and there is an across-the-board $200B series of cuts. Also that day, a whole new tax, the Unearned Income Medicare Contribution (UIMC) puts an additional 3.8% tax on dividends, interest and capital gains for investors with over $200K of income.

The biggest problem? I can’t see a way for this cantankerous Congress and President to simply extend the cuts before the election or after the election. First, neither party has the political mettle to work on tax policy in an election year: they’re both busy trying to get elected or reelected. Second, after the election, I can only see four options:

  1. President Obama gets re-elected, the Republicans win the Senate: I think the president would not extend the cuts, but rather push the tax policy onto the Republicans plate for 2013 to force them to give him his upper bracket increases;
  2. President Obama gets re-elected, the Democrats keep the Senate: I see the same result as above ;
  3. President-elect Romney wins, the Republicans win the Senate: President Obama would still be in office on 12/31/2012 and would not extend the cuts, but rather push the expiration onto the new administration (‘you fix it’);
  4. President-elect Romney wins, the Democrats keep the Senate: Same result as number 3 above.

So here’s my proposal: Since it is inaction on the part of Congress and the President that is creating this mess, I suggest the following:

  • Cut Executive and Congressional Pay and office allowances by the amount equivalent to the overall sequestration cuts. The average Representative and Senator gets an allowance of about $1.4M, so cut their staff allowance and pay by 5-10%. There’s about $75M.
  • Have each member of Congress and the President contribute the exact amount of the tax increase that would result from the Bush Tax cuts expiration on their compensations to a fund to reduce the national debt. Members of Congress and the Senate make $165,200, so this would probably mean at least a $5,000 increase for each member. There’s another $2.7M toward the deficit.
  • They can have their old pay when they fix the law and the budget.

My bottom line? Perhaps our elected officials should ‘taste’ the outcomes of their actions. I suggest they take the pre-emptive cuts and tax increases upon themselves. If they fix the problem before year end, let them have the money back. Otherwise, the cuts continue. Washington should eat what it cooks.

Leon

View Original Source at LJPR, LLC

5 Responses to A Modest Proposal for Congress (and the President): Eat Your Own Cooking

  1. Earl E Adaptor February 24, 2012 at 9:00 am #

    Maybe these elected officials should buy their own lunch too. I’d like to know how much the super committee charged to us taxpayers for their lunch while they did nothing.

  2. Greg Robbins February 24, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    Here’s a severe proposal: for every month there’s no balanced budget in place, cut Congressional salaries and office allowances by 10%. At the end of 10 months when there’s no money left, make them live in studio apartments and forced to eat only beans and rice. Nights and weekends are spent learning the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution verbatim. Their families, should they need it, are put up in a local trailer park and given food stamps. Resignations are accepted and even encouraged, the only stipulation being that the resigning individual can never run for Federal office again.

  3. Danielle F. Watson February 24, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    “Do as I say but don’t do as I do, the Governments way, or no way at all.”

    I agree, let’s see how long they all would last living the way most American tax payers live these days.

  4. Joseph W. Griesbaum February 24, 2012 at 11:50 am #

    While I appreciate reading Mr. LaBrecque opinions, his logic for providing solutions for offsetting lost revenue from various tax cut roll backs and any sequestration of budget cuts fails to meet any criteria of being call “logical!” First and foremost, his number don’t remotely add up. By his calculation, assuming Congress was to actually followed thru with his advice, the total savings would $77.7M in federal funds. Where’s the other $122.3 BILLION ($200B – $77.7M) in funds supposed to come if the budget cuts aren’t re-sequestered??

    As for Mssr Robbins & Adaptor’s comments, they sprint past the line of logical and runs head first to the finish line of nonsensical and outlandish! We should make our government live in a trailer park, eat rice & beans – which they should have to by based on Mr Adaptor’s opinion, read the Articles of Confederation and then resign???

    Mssr Robbins & Adaptor, WHAT exactly are you two smoking because ya’ll clearly inhaled!?

    A point of history, as the grasp of history seems to allude Mr Robbins, is the AoF does not call the United States of America a “nation” or “government,” but instead says, “The said States hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense whatever.”

    So, WHY on earth, Mr Robbins, should our current congressional leaders be required to read the Articles of Confederation as it’s a document of partnership of the original 13 colonies PRIOR to the establishment of the United States of America as a government and/or country???

    Indeed, by putting off any decisions about budgets or tax cuts until after this years elections, Congress is not only practicing good politics but also good risk management. Sound risk management based on the laws of probability that say it’s wise to put off making any decisions about future outcomes until all known information is in hand. Putting off any tax or budgetary decisions until after the election is NOT “gridlock” or inaction as Mr. LaBrecque attends; rather, Congress is exercising sound risk management skills by allowing the electoral populous (read: you and me) decide which of the options we the people feel are in OUR best interest (i.e Dem vs Rep control of the Senate/Presidency) and then acting upon that information.

    Genetleman, the taste of your lunatic writings has – indeed – left a bad taste in my mouth. It’s asked that if you are going to write about the things you have in the original article and subsequent comments that your writings be more grounded in fact, reason and at least even a MINIMAL understanding of history and less so on whimsy, nonsense and irrational ideas.

  5. Otto Shelmet February 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    Mr. Griesbaum-Loosen up and grow a sense of humor. I understand what you mean in your post. You are a bit too serious.

    Mr. LaBrecque-Intersting blog. I understood that you were not trying to solve a $200B deficit with $75M from congressional savings. But $75 million savings here and $75 million in savings there, after a while it becomes some real money!