Tahlequah Daily Press

Editorials

April 9, 2013

Congress should sacrifice, too

TAHLEQUAH — Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel set the tone for what should become a widespread trend, if there’s any real justice to be spotted in the midst of budget sequestration.

Sequestration – which prompts automatic budget cuts – was set in motion by Congress’ refusal to compromise on federal constraints. The administration caved in and agreed to a number of trims, even suggesting Social Security cost-of-living increases and other entitlements might be on the table, but it still wanted additional revenue sources through small tax hikes on the upper echelon and certain behemoth corporations. The House, in its persistent loyalty to the tea party and the ultra-wealthy, refused to give an inch. And thus, many federal employees will be subjected to two weeks of furloughs by the end of the year.

In solidarity with their furloughed civilian employees, Hagel said he and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter will return a proportionate share of their own salaries to federal coffers. President Obama responded by cutting his own pay 5 percent for 2013. Since his salary can’t be changed during a term, he’ll be cutting a check to the government. Then, Secretary of State John Kerry followed suit.

Opponents of Obama – and by extension, anyone in his cabinet – will decry the pay cuts as publicity stunts, though it’ll do them little good: Obama can’t seek another term and Hagel will likely leave his job when Obama does. And they will rightly point out that Obama is unlikely to miss 5 percent of his $400,000 salary. However, the detractors have to tread carefully, because those in the upper 1 percent Congress has been protecting have claimed they can’t make ends meet if an even smaller portion of their incomes were taken through tax hikes.

Whatever motive is attributed to Hagel’s and Obama’s action, the symbolic gesture of “shared sacrifice” should make the lasting impression. Though Obama’s salary is considerable, how many of us could afford a $20,000 pay cut without resorting to public assistance? And how many of us are donating about 22 percent of our adjusted gross incomes to charity? That’s what the Obamas did in 2011 (the last year for which figures are available), starting with an adjusted gross income of $789,674. And while that’s an enormous sum to most of  us in the Cherokee County workforce, it’s nary a drop in the bucket for the much-ballyhooed and zealously protected upper 1 percent, who are statistically known for their lack of sharing with the less fortunate.

Pundits like Sean Hannity are scoffing and insisting the president’s vacations to Hawaii in Florida suggest he’s out of touch with the suffering most of us must endure. But Hannity, like other disingenuous public figures of his ilk, never mentions George W. Bush’s perpetual cycle of vacations, though his liberal counterparts did so back in the day (and are perhaps silent now). Either way, few talking heads ever offer to do anything for their fellow Americans, unless spewing venom and crowing half-truths counts for “anything.”

But they’re private citizens, after all, and can thus feel more self-righteous about their stinginess. That’s not exactly the case for those on the taxpayer teat.

If Hagel and Obama can sacrifice a portion of their income to assuage their guilt over the sequester, then so should the members of Congress, Vice President Joe Biden, and all the other “public servants” who populate the Beltway and fortuitously escaped the furlough. Each member of Congress pulls in a minimum of $174,000 per year, and that’s not including benefits and other perks, or the weighty stipends for their leaders. It’s no stretch to suggest the delegates who actually deserve their salaries comprise a percentage far smaller than Obama’s pay cut.

Are any of them offering to share the sacrifice they expect from other Americans? So far, we’ve heard only crickets chirping. That’s about what we’ve come to expect from Capitol Hill when it comes to doing what’s right.

1
Text Only
Editorials
  • Tourism Council and chamber should cut the proverbial cord

    They are defined by two separate purposes and operate under two distinctive sets of bylaws, but years of conflicting opinions have left lingering questions and confusion over the relationship between the decades-old Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce and the younger Tahlequah Area Tourism Council.

    July 30, 2014

  • NSU needs to be more candid when its plans go awry

    Many area residents were disappointed to learn this week that the NSU Fitness Center, and its all-important indoor lap pool, won’t open next month, as originally announced.
    This latest delay is no surprise.

    July 28, 2014

  • Higher premiums a just reward for drunken drivers

    Over the past several years, Oklahoma has slipped in many of the polls that count. This week, we learned Tulsa is No. 4 on a list of cities with high rates of fatal DUI accidents. Is anyone really surprised?

    July 25, 2014

  • Maybe it’s time to think about having another BalloonFest

    The 18th annual BalloonFest was the last one held, in 2010. In summer 2011, when the Daily Press staff hadn’t heard anything about the much-anticipated event, we started asking questions.

    July 23, 2014

  • If you see a drunken driver, take the time to call in a report

    If you see something, say something. You’ve heard the warning, and seen it imprinted on placards at airports. In the wake of 9/11, it became a national mantra, mainly aimed at spotting potential terrorist activities. But it’s good advice anytime, and for any reason, even at the local level.

    July 14, 2014

  • City officials should stop squabbling and try to work together

    It’s bad enough that the Chamber of Commerce scandal has given Tahlequah a black eye. But if the bickering among city officials doesn’t stop, the community will have a complete set of shiners for its public face.

    July 11, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    Despite pressure from some quarters, neither the Press nor anyone else who values full disclosure will be clamming up until all the facts are known, and those who are responsible meet with justice.

    July 10, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    A few board members for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce are saying they’ve heard nothing but positive things lately – about the chamber itself, and presumably, about themselves.

    July 9, 2014

  • Employer-sponsored insurance may now be a ‘hostage’ situation

    When the fallout settles from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, many Americans might decide they’re better off with health insurance that doesn’t come from their boss.

    July 7, 2014

  • With confidence in Congress at 7 percent, time for a new slate

    Note to Congress: We don’t like you. Not at all.
    A Gallup poll released Monday, June 30 confirmed what most of us already know: the American public is disgusted with the House and Senate. The survey recorded the lowest level of confidence since Gallup began asking the question in 1991: a whopping 7 percent. That’s not a typographical error; it’s a single digit.

    July 2, 2014

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando
Stocks