Payoff the Boss’s Credit Cards?

At one point in my fabulous newspaper career, an editor strongly suggested I look for another line of work. I went across the Potomac to a smaller (and now defunct) newspaper to ask for a job.

To make a short story even shorter, I got the job. BUT…

During the interview with the Managing Editor, the kid who delivered newspapers to the newspaper came in collect. The editor appealed to the staff for change, but came up short. Then he asked me if I could loan him $4 until I got my first check. Although I was young and foolish, an alarm bell went off. I thought it might be a bad career move if the top-paid guy in the paper needed me to front him $4.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Last week, a reader, concerned about our whopping national debt, asked if there was a way that federal workers could help pay it down. So we asked what feds think.


Reaction was mixed, but many think it’s a bad idea until Congress gives up its pork-heavy diet.

(Interesting note: Most of the comments came from women and most came from Defense, IRS and the Department of Homeland Security.) Here goes:

  • “Now you must know the worst thing to do for a compulsive spender (compulsive gambler, shopper, etc.) is to pay off their debts and let them start again. They just get into debt deeper than the first time. It’s like bailing your kid out of financial trouble. Most of the time it doesn’t cure the problem, just lets them spend even more until they are in a worse fix.

    The government needs to sit down with a Budget Expert and learn how to spend within their income. Actually they need to learn how to cut back to spending a lot less than their income to pay off the national debt. Maybe Suzie Orman can sit the Congress down and have them go over the monthly (annual) budget line by line by line to see where all the money goes, how much money comes in and look at items they don’t need to spend to live and cut them. She does this in her book Action Plan.

    It’s a thought!” Linda at the IRS

  • “Mike, This is a true story about a young college student who makes a contribution to reduce the national debt every day. She and her friends pick up found change on the street. Each day she takes this money and sends it in the mail to the Federal Government (for which she pays the postage) to help reduce the national debt. Actually, the Government agency acknowledged her contributions, but has requested that she mail in a check. Yet, she continues to send the spare change everyday. I really admire this young woman and her committment to making this a better country!” Sue M. long term government employee
  • “What a great idea. I can’t wait to see what percentage of their efforts go into overhead :)

    “Seriously, the government can do whatever it wants, and this is not a bad idea. I might even contribute.

    “My bigger concern is why are we supporting all these ‘charities’ by giving a tax break for contributions. I am not interested in supporting any charity or religion through deductions. And I would prefer that all religions and charities pay taxes. When the salary of a ‘religious leader’ or ‘charity president’ goes over the mean salary of all taxpayers, that organization should pay taxes.” Rita of the USPS

  • “The debt should be paid by those who created it, the Republican party. Let them take responsibility for their actions.” Comptroller of the Currency worker.
  • “Come on Mike…as John McEnroe famously says: You can not be serious!!! The only thing the government does well is SPEND our money!!! Do you really trust that if people contributed money toward the national debt, that the money would actually go toward paying the debt down??? If you do, then my advice to you is to stop drinking the Kool-Aid.” Randy at the Treasury
  • “I think it would be a great idea to add a category in the Combined Federal Campaign for national debt.” Just My Opinion, No Name Please.
  • “Ref the idea to allow us to make a charitable contribution via CFC to reduce national debt:

    “Great idea! I’d do it! It’d be fast and easy, since CFC infrastructure is already in place. It would benefit individuals twice…once as a tax deduction (charity) and once by reducing growth of national debt which burdens us all. Plus it would be patriotic. What’s not to like?” DoD

  • “I enjoyed your column this morning. My first impression regarding using the CFC to help to pay off the national debt was ‘Isn’t that like volunteering to pay more taxes’. But then I thought about it a little. As long as we’re assured the money is used to pay off the debt, and won’t be used to fund some congressman’s pork, it’s a great idea. It may be like paying more taxes, but at least we have a say in how that money is used. I still wonder though how much of a difference $100 here and there from CFC contributors can make on a debt so large.” Diane at the Census Bureau
  • “That won’t work for me. I quit considering the CFC ever since the United Way gave the Golden Parachute to the guy who was stealing money back in 1992.” Chip at Archives
  • ” Why not a national bake sale? I think there was a movie about a national telethon — that might not be a bad idea. But, my favorite — have the folks who got us into this mess hold a fundraising car wash…tell the National Parks Service to line both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue with hoses and buckets!

    “Re: CFC – why not? Granting tax credit for investing (literally) in the future of our nation seems to make sense to me.” Pat F.

  • ” Definitelty…NOT! I pride myself on making a much-larger-than-most feds-contribution to worthy causes within the CFC. …There are many people, life-forms (read: animals, plants, etc.) the enviroment and other worthy causes who – through no fault of their own – are in need of assistance. This is the purpose of the CFC. Congress and each Administration, on the other hand, knowling intentionally and with little concern for anything not connected with their election or reelection create the National Debt. It would be an insult to the purpose of the CFC to siphon off money from worthy causes to a man-made problem that should be corrected by the means it was created. i.e., legislation or lack thereof!” Mike, La Mesa, California

Unions, Politics, Legislation

Today’s Your Turn with Mike Causey radio show promises to be an educational double-header. At 10 a.m. National Treasury Employees Union president Colleen Kelley talks about how government unions operate. Whether you are a member or not, chances are one of the unions or associations represents you.

At 10:30 a.m. Judy Park, longtime legislative director for the National Active and Retired Federal Employees explains why it takes an average of 10 years to get a pro-federal worker/retiree bill signed into law. You can listen live on your computer at or, in the DC area at WFED 1500 AM.

To reach me:

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