For it is by grace you have been saved...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Open Letter to Sen. Claire McCaskill

(One of our Senators from Missouri came through the area last night touting her effort to reduce spending. What follows is my response; merely the opinion of one voter)

Dear Honorable Senator:

We all know that we are in tough economic times. We all know the Federal Deficit is outrageous and spending is out of control. It is very refreshing to hear one of our elected officials admit these things. It’s nice to hear you speak of a new package of reforms you are proposing to "make sure the same rules apply for members of Congress as they do for everyday Americans." It’s nice to hear you say the “pain must be shared.” However, it is very disappointing to hear in the same breath “recommendations” that seem to be designed more to obtain positive press than to effect any real solution.

For example, the “reforms” you recommend would create an independent “watchdog” to give oversight to Senate spending, etc. The idea sounds good: someone who isn’t beholden to either party keeping an eye on things. However, only in Washington does this make sense: create a new job, spending tax payer money to do so, in an effort to save tax payer money. More bureaucracy, more spending, is not the way to save money. This is a shell game, smoke and mirrors; not a real solution.

Furthermore, you suggest that Senators give up 10% of their office budget to help pay down the deficit. Again, may sound good at first, but let’s think about this. First of all, I don’t know how much your budget is, but I have a hard time believing that this %10 is going to even make a dent in the $14 trillion debt. It’s a token amount at best, though we appreciate the effort.

And second, you are giving up the part of your budget which pays your office staff. In other words, you are generously offering up someone else’s paycheck. It’s easy to “share the pain” when putting it on someone else. If you really care about the state and the nation, if you are really concerned about the overspending, etc., and if you really want to make an offer that will not only resonate with the voters but will make a real difference, how about cutting your own salary.

Public information shows that the average rank and file member of the U. S. House and Senate makes a salary of $174,000 per year. That’s salary. Of course we all know there are other benefits. According to the recent census, that is nearly four times the salary of the “everyday Americans” you represent in Missouri. Four times.

In the last several years, businesses right here in Missouri have had to make tough decisions: either cut back salaries or lay off workers. In some cases, they’ve had to do both. If you are truly concerned about helping the economy, how about truly running the Senate like any other business; when you are that far in debt, cut salaries; stop spending in general.

I’m sorry, but it’s hard to accept your sincerity when your only offer is to create more tax payer funded bureaucracy and to take away money from the people who work for you, while you continue to make well above the average income of those who are taxed so heavily to pay your own salary.

It’s nice that you admit there is a problem. It’s nice that you claim to want to do something about it. It’s very nice that you have cut your own office budget, reportedly, by 10%. However, I would strongly urge you to go back and consider making some real changes, not just some token effort to make it look like you’re trying to save tax payer money.

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