Tahlequah Daily Press

Editorials

February 15, 2013

Congressional pay freeze a good idea

TAHLEQUAH — Who is to blame for the impending threat of so-called “sequestration” going into effect March 1? It depends on which political party is listed on your voter registration.

Democrats say Republicans are at fault, because some in the GOP seem willing to let it happen, no matter what must be sacrificed. For their part, Republicans say the fault lies with Democrats, whom they say refuse to tackle the deficit with appropriate cuts, and are thus prompting sequestration.

But putting aside all the political posturing and finger-pointing, if sequestration occurs, it’s going to cost jobs – and that can’t be good for the economy.

As State Rep. Mike Brown explained, if a new federal budget deal is not approved, the states will go into sequestration, which prompts automatic federal spending cuts to all discretionary programs. That could mean a reduction of $130 million to $200 million for Oklahoma alone.

No one wants to hear this, but Oklahoma is a so-called “recipient state” – meaning it receives more federal tax dollars than its residents pay into the system. Essentially we’re a welfare state, relying on taxes supplied by folks in places like California and Texas. Much of that “welfare” comes in the form of defense spending, so that’s where we’ll suffer so many job losses or furloughs if sequestration comes to bear. But also on the block are millions of federal health care dollars and potentially hundreds of jobs in that industry, as well as in almost every facet of government operation. It’s likely that someone in your family will be among the unemployed.

According to U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, more than 26,000 jobs could be furloughed or even cut at Altus Air Force Base, Fort Sill, McAlester Army Ammunition Plan, Tinker AFB, Vance AFB, and the Oklahoma National Guard.

For the AFBs, sequestration could mean decreased flying hours and fewer pilots completing training. All bases would have shorter operating hours, reduced equipment availability, reduction in readiness, and the list goes on and on.

District 2’s new congressman, Markwayne Mullin, is on record as saying sequestration is coming, and that we might as well face the cuts now rather than later. His precise statement when he was in Tahlequah was, “BOOM – get rid of the [federal] spending... I’m one of those guys who wants to get it over with.” We assume Mullin understands the elimination of this spending could potentially put thousands upon thousands of Oklahomans on the jobless or welfare rolls – and indeed, he acknowledged the ripple effect.

Many in Congress are decrying President Obama’s lack of a workable plan to head off sequestration, but few of them have an alternative. An exception is Inhofe, who has with a couple of other senators cobbled together what appears to be a good starting point. Inhofe wanted to create $85 billion in savings through a natural attrition in the workforce of 10 percent – meaning once someone retires or quits, that job will go dark – “without ever touching defense cuts or hiking taxes.”

More interesting is Inhofe’s proposal to freeze pay for members of Congress. In truth, the pay and benefits for Congress should be cut deeply, and that’s a move almost everyone – liberal or conservative – would heartily sanction for this largely do-nothing, polarized and quibbling group of overcompensated “public servants.” But predictably, that part of Inhofe’s proposal has met with resistance. When we asked Mullin’s press secretary whether the congressman would support similar legislation in the House, we were told Mullin had no comment.

We don’t need to spell out why sequestration would be especially bad for Oklahoma, but we’ll start with the observation that people who don’t have jobs don’t spend money in stores that sell groceries, clothing, electronics, furniture, or home entertainment items. They don’t buy new cars or build homes or rent RVs, and they put off repairs to their plumbing, their roofs and their kitchen stoves. Lost jobs translates into shuttered businesses, and that culminates in a devastated Oklahoma.

Many elected officials don’t understand or care, but it seems Inhofe does, even if some might not agree with how he arrived at his conclusions. Freezing congressional pay is a great place to start, and if some of those tucked into the Beltway want to squeal about it, we should let them – and then remember their responses when we vote again in a few years.

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Editorials
  • Community cleanups a good way to ensure our collective success

    This is our community – and it’s no better than what we make it. Let’s make it look great.

    April 16, 2014

  • Attack at school in Pennsylvania: Mental illness root of problem

    Washington’s crusade against guns was dealt a severe blow on Wednesday. No, it wasn’t the Supreme Court curtailment of the Second Amendment right of all Americans to own firearms. It wasn’t an executive order handed down by the administration. It was the brutal assault by a high school student in Pennsylvania against his fellow students – with a knife.

    April 14, 2014

  • People with faulty zippers should be booted from office

    We may forgive, but we shouldn’t forget, because there’s serious work to do in Washington. That work will never be accomplished as long as flawed zippers - literally or figurately – are a pervasive problem.

    April 11, 2014

  • Do your part to fight animal and child abuse

    It’s hard to change the habits of an abuser, especially when mitigating factors – such as alcohol or drugs – are involved. And these patterns tend to repeat themselves in successive generations. But all of us can take one small step to help eradicate this epidemic, and that is to report it when we see it.

    April 9, 2014

  • NSA head lies to Congress, and seems to get away with it

    Is there an obvious pattern of criminality within these governmental agencies? If so, why isn’t the Judicial Department investigating?

    April 7, 2014

  • Pass for rich kiddie rapist proves that justice isn’t blind

    Someone in Wilmington, Del., needs to keep an eye on Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden for the next few months, because she might improve her standard of living due to a sudden influx of cash.
    There’s no other way to explain why Jurden would have sentenced an ultra-wealthy heir to the du Pont fortune to probation for raping his 3-year-old daughter. It’s an outrageous miscarriage of justice that once again proves when it comes to the U.S. justice system, the elite get a pass almost every time.

    April 4, 2014

  • Maybe it’s not $3.2B, but state should still account for tribal cash

    In an editorial published last week, the Daily Press said that through tribal compacts, the state of Oklahoma received about $3.2 billion in annual revenue, partly attributable to the 117 casinos (or 118, in some reports) run by 33 tribes in the state. The information we accessed for that piece was confusing, and had a typo or two, which may have led us to overstate – to a considerable degree – how much money the tribes actually give the state.

    April 2, 2014

  • Tribal compacts should mean state has money to perform its functions

    Oklahoma should be rolling in the dough. The statistics bear that out. Thirty-three American Indian tribes operate 117 casinos in this state. Thanks to “compacts,” these tribes have been sharing the wealth with the state of Oklahoma. And thanks to the casinos, that wealth is substantial.

    March 28, 2014

  • It’s time to turn in your candidate announcements

    If you are running for a political office for which Cherokee County voters can cast ballots, it’s time to turn in your announcement. We’ve already run a few, and expect several more. The primary elections are Tuesday, June 24, with the registration period to vote in this election closing Thursday, May 30.

    March 24, 2014

  • Mom responsible for watching kid; restaurant’s not

    If you allowed your child to drink a bottle of drain cleaner, would you feign surprise when he fell to the floor, twitching and foaming at the mouth? If you left your curling iron within reach of your baby and she pulled it off the vanity and burned her hand, would you plan revenge on the store that sold you the appliance?
    You just might, if you’re among the litigious Americans who have abdicated parental responsibility to either sloth or the hope of a better tomorrow through a cash settlement.

    March 19, 2014

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
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