KRISTOF: WHY PAY CONGRESS?

EDITORIAL NOTE: Why pay anyone in government if they are not governing? The Banks and big business are running the show. Either acknowledge it and downsize government to what Goldman Sachs needs to continue its domination or, to borrow a phrase, “take back” our government for the people, stop the fraudulent foreclosures, enforce the laws, rejuvenate the economy, educate the masses, and move on.

Why Pay Congress?

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

If we careen over a cliff on Friday and the American government shuts down, hard-working federal workers will stop getting paychecks, but the members of Congress responsible for the shutdown are expected to be paid as usual.

That’s partly because Congressional pay is not subject to the regular appropriations process, and partly because of Constitutional concerns. The Senate passed a bill proposed by Barbara Boxer of California that would suspend Congressional paychecks in any government shutdown, but the Republican-controlled House has blocked it. House Republicans approved a similar pay suspension, but it was embedded in legislation that has zero chance of becoming law.

The upshot is that federal workers who do important work for the public — cleaning up toxic waste, enrolling sick people into lifesaving medical trials, answering medical hot lines, running national parks, processing passport applications — risk being sent home and going unpaid. But members of Congress would continue to receive $174,000 a year. As the humorist Andy Borowitz wrote in a Twitter message:  “That’s like eliminating the fire dept & sending checks to the arsonists.”

In my travels lately, I’ve been trying to explain to Libyans, Egyptians, Bahrainis, Chinese and others the benefits of a democratic system. But if Congressional Republicans actually shut down the government this weekend, they will be making a powerful argument for autocracy. Chinese television will be all over the story.

If a high school student council refused to approve a budget so that student activities had to be canceled — even as student leaders continued to pay themselves stipends — a school board would probably cancel the entire experiment in student democracy. But I can’t imagine high school students acting so immature.

Some Republicans seem motivated to accept a government shutdown not only by a terror of the Tea Party wing of their party but also by a profound misunderstanding of fiscal policy.

“Our generation’s greatest challenge,” Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a Republican, declared in an op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal the other day, “is an economy that isn’t growing, alongside a national debt that is.”

A fair number of Republicans share that sentiment, so let’s take a closer look. To nitpick, it’s factually wrong. The economy has been growing since the third quarter of 2009. The larger point is true. The economy is still sputtering, unemployment is too high and debt is growing.

But one of the most basic principles of economics is that when an economy is anemic, governments should use deficit spending as a fiscal stimulus, even though that means an increase in debt. If Senator Rubio believes that the response to a weak economy is to slash spending, he is embracing the approach that Herbert Hoover discredited 80 years ago.

Republicans are correct that debt matters and that we need to address America’s long-term deficits. That means trimming entitlement programs and reducing the rise in health care spending that is eroding their viability; we also probably need some tax increases. But while our long-term need is to rein in deficit spending, our short-term need is to boost it. That’s why sensible budget plans involve a short-term stimulus combined with long-term trims that take effect when the economy is healthy again.

The Republican plan to address debt right now, in an economic trough, echoes the horrendous mistake Japan made in the mid-1990s just as it was emerging from its own deep recession. Japan collapsed right back into what became its “lost decade” and now realizes that it should have nurtured a recovery before addressing its debt problem.

I was living in Japan then and referred to the prime minister on the front page of The New York Times as “Herbert Hoover” Hashimoto. So it only seems fair to refer now, if the shutdown occurs, to the current speaker of the House as “Herbert Hoover” Boehner.

Imagine how disastrous it would be if the Republicans shut down government for any length of time. Unpaid federal employees would cut back on shopping. Some would miss house payments. Family members might drop out of college. The I.R.S. might not be able to deliver some tax refunds. Small businesses would stop getting government loans. In sum, after the Democratic stimulus, we would have the Republican drag.

Republicans are also threatening to refuse to raise the government debt ceiling. By July, that could mean a default on U.S. government bonds. The Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, says that would be “catastrophic,” and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner warns that we could see “a financial crisis potentially more severe than the crisis from which we are only now starting to recover.”

All this seems mind-bogglingly petty and pusillanimous. If members of Congress shut down government and trigger a new financial crisis, then they shouldn’t just have their own pay docked. They should also learn the discipline of a market economy and be fired by the public that they are betraying.

10 Responses

  1. Deb wynn,
    What the BIG BANKS are doing is the same thing they did to induce the Great Depression, Financial Fearmongering so they can Monopolize on everyone in financial distress and buy everything for pennies on the dollar.

  2. GOD, I’M SO SICK OF EVERYONE SAYING “WE’RE A DEMOCRACY” AND THAT’S WHAT WE’RE TRYING TO SPREAD AROUND THE WORLD.

    A DEMOCRACY DOESN’T ELECT REPRESENTATIVES TO VOTE FOR THEM OR HAVE A JUDICIAL BRANCH HEAR COURT CASES, IT DOES THOSE THINGS THEMSELVES DIRECTLY!

    WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE GUARANTEED A REPUBLICAN FORM OF GOVERNMENT, BUT NOTHING IS AS IS CURRENTLY BEING ‘ADVERTISED’.

    TRUTH:

    DEMOCRATS ARE REALLY COMMUNISTS WHO ARE ONLY INTERESTED IN CREATING A BIGGER GOVERNMENT THAT LEECHES OFF ALL OF US BY DOMINATION.

    REPUBLICANS ARE REALLY FASCISTS WHO ARE ONLY INTERESTED IN CREATING BIGGER BUSINESS TO MONOPOLIZE ON ALL HUMAN NECESSITIES AND ENSLAVE US INTO DEBT.

    THE JUDICIAL BRANCH IS NOT A SYSTEM OF COURTS OPERTATING UNDER THE RULE OF LAW, THEY ARE AN OLIGARCHIC DICTATORSHIP.

    NONE OF THEM ARE INTERESTED IN OR HAVE ANY CONCERN FOR ANY INDIVIDUAL (HUMAN) RIGHTS AND NONE OF THEM HAVE ANY RESPECT FOR THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE AND THE RULE OF LAW.

  3. Thank you Deb Wwynn, on April 7, 2011
    So very important.

    Fact new private finance exchange Africa!
    HSBC moved out and over already selling back to Wells Fargo HSBC Trade bank its 40% share.

    How will we have access to the documents, Agreements, Exhbiits to reveal facts of harm and injury?

    STRUCTURED ASSET SECURITIES CORP LOAN TRUST 2006-WF3 IS EITHER NOT A REAL LOAN TRUST OR A FOREIGN LOAN TRUST.

    ONE CANNOT FIND REFERENCE TO THE LOAN TRUST HOWEVER, A TRUST FUND CONTAINING 88 ‘LOAN TRUSTS’ CONTAINS REFERENCE TO THIS FOREIGN LOAN TRUST, AND A NEW YORK STATE ENTITY JURISDICTION ‘CAYMAN ISLANDS’ IS REGISTERED IN NYS WITH A SIMILAR NAME

    SASCO NIMS 2006-WF3 NYS FOREIGN ENTITY

    SASCO 2006-WF3 (10K) FILED 3/31/2007 REFERENCES THE 88 ‘LOAN TRUSTS’ IN A TABLE

    AMBAC REFERENCES THE SASC 2006-WF3 ‘M9’ IN THE LASALLE NATIONAL BANK DEAL WITH ABACUS AND GOLDMAN SACHS….

  4. Amen.

    Congress 112th will take the fall in the history books for harming the economy, third element of our national security.

  5. who needs the govern-mat?

  6. shut them down! show the people we do not need the federal governmant….That is what they are really afraid of !!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. This paste is from money and market weiss research ( Martin weiss)

    Huge investors flee while Congress fiddles!
    by Mike Larson

    Dear Subscriber,

    When super investors are fleeing U.S. dollars and turning their backs on the U.S. Treasury, it pays to take notice!

    Take Bill Gross, who runs PIMCO, the world’s largest bond fund. He recently said U.S. treasuries have “little value” because of Washington’s exploding deficits and debt.

    According to Gross, PIMCO has been actively SELLING treasuries because “We are out-Greeking the Greeks”!

    Meanwhile, legendary investor Warren Buffett just told a packed audience in New Delhi that he “would recommend AGAINST buying long-term fixed-dollar investments.” 

    Mr. Buffett’s reasoning: Our massive debts and money printing virtually guarantee that the dollar’s slide will continue, and bond investors will be repaid with dollars that are mere shadows of their former selves.

    And yet our politicians — the very people who could restore faith in our country, shore up our currency, and work toward undoing our massive debts — can’t agree on ANYTHING! 

    As I write this, we are moving closer and closer to a complete and total shutdown of the U.S. government and Congressional negotiators are still billions apart on a budget comprise.  

    But you know what’s even sicker? It’s the fact that

    Even if they reach an agreement — and even if Republicans get every last penny of the cuts they want — it’s still less than 4% of the projected 2011 deficit!

    Make no mistake, Subscriber: This is tantamount to fiddling while Rome burns.

    The message is clear. The smart money knows we are facing what could very well be the greatest economic catastrophe our nation has ever seen … and they’re positioning themselves NOW.

    So are YOU ready?

    Are you doing what must be done to insulate yourself and your family from the consequences of this historic event?

    Do you know how to USE it to multiply your money many times over in 2011 and 2012?

    Dr. Weiss produced his new American Apocalypse video to help you protect yourself and even profit from this massive exodus from the U.S. dollar.

    Click this link and this free video will begin playing immediately.

    Best wishes,

    Mike

  8. Congress should have been fired a long time ago–like twenty years ago. Things have been going downhill for the middle class for many years, while Wall Street and the top\e 2% gets disgusting richer. I hope the American people can see the writing on the wall. Congress and the very wealthy will strip you of everything you own. Remember what happened in the French Revolution. Let them eat cake! Burmese8@yahoo.com

  9. another sideshow distraction designed to keep the sheeple playing “repubics vs dumocrats” So a shutdown is all the repubs fault (so get mad at them), meanwhile, pay no attention to the flippin avalanche of debt that both parties have helped to accumulate. Government (i.e. r’s and d’s) spends more than it brings in and has for over 20 yrs. here are a couple of ways to wrap your head around what a trillion dollars is: http://www.pagetutor.com/trillion/index.html and also this, if you had spent 1,000,000.00 a day every day since Jesus died, you still would not have spent 1,000,000,000,000.00 Our gubmint is looking to spend almost 4 trillion in 2012 of which we would borrow close to half. If you think the mortgage thing was a massive ponzi scheme, they pale in comparison to what these idiots have done to the American people, but then we voted them in there didn’t we??? and by the way WHAT IN HELL does this have to do with mortgage fraud????

  10. too funny Neil,

    not just 2 hours ago while cooking breakfest with my wife, we had on Fox News and listening to them yap about the budget,

    I said to my wife, why are we paying these guys, and to boot some big pension. She says I think they should outlaw pensions for these guys……….I think she is right. Here they are talking about 60 billion compared to trillions and who really knows how much is really there considering the shadow part?

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: