Downsize Government: Congress First

Beating up on government in general, and government workers in particular, is nothing new. Some would say it’s the American way. But many long time observers think the criticism today is harsher than anytime they can remember.

In 1996, Alan S. Blinder, a Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, warned:

    “A nation that routinely denigrates its public servants, and makes public service as unpleasant as possible, may soon find itself with the kind of government it has tacitly asked for.”

What if he’s right? Are highly vocal critics (some politicians and portions of the news media) correct when they describe a bloated, unresponsive, ineffective government, or at they adding to the problem?


Monday’s column featured a letter from a fed who is fed up with being the designated whipping boy of politicians. That inspired this money-saving suggestion from another career government employee:

    “In this age of budget deficits, debt and downsizing, I would like to offer a few suggestions on some budget cuts that most Americans probably wouldn’t mind at all.

    “1. Downsize Congress. There is no real or material need to have 435 (+ 6 non-voting) members of the House of Representatives and 100 members of the Senate. Congress is a bloated government entity, and a 50% reduction in the number of members will result a true cost savings to the American people in staffing, salaries, expenses and perks.

    “2. Congress should be a part time job as originally intended, where members have, ‘real’ jobs in addition to providing their legislative, ‘service’ to the American people. In fact, legislators should be treated like members of the National Guard or Reserve, where they statutorily receive time off from their real jobs to conduct the nation’s business. This will result in additional huge cost savings.

    “3. Congress should be under a ‘pay for performance plan’, whereas, if they fail to do their jobs (like failing to pass a budget), they don’t get paid. If they miss a vote, their salary gets docked. Based upon the status quo, yet more cost savings.

    “Based upon just these three ideas alone, we can literally save the American taxpayer billions, while making most Americans happy that our nation is finally going in the right direction by imposing cost savings on the folks that create most of our problems.

    “Unfortunately, it’s not likely that we would ever see Congress sacrifice for the good of the country. Those on the, ‘Hill’, are too self absorbed in their own self interests (and those of the lobbies that support them) to do to themselves what they are asking the federal workforce to do. SACRIFICE FOR THE COMMON GOOD!” Fed Up Fed in Philly

Most members of Congress probably oppose the idea of being classified as part-timers. We hope to have a congressional response either after members return from their next Constitutent Work Week break (April 18-29) or before they leave again, (May 16-20) for spring break.

In the meantime, you can reach me:

Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

Only visible once a year!

Okay, seriously. Last pass on “actors who have starred in prime time TV shows over three different decades.” I’m not sure the three mentioned in Monday’s NUF were intended to be an exhaustive list, but today we have one final name to add: William Shatner. Both Ken@DOL and Frank @ USDA remember him from such hits as “Star Trek”, “T.J. Hooker”, “Rescue 911”, “Boston Legal” and “$#*! My Dad Says”. Thanks to everyone for playing!

And finally, the HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY NUF!

From the U.S. Census Bureau, we learn “almost 37 million Americans claim Irish descent — more than eight times the population of Ireland itself.”


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