Alexander's Column

Who Got Stimulated?

By Mark Alexander · Dec. 2, 2010

(This shakedown has nothing to do with the TSA)

“The sober people of America are weary of the fluctuating policy which has directed the public councils. … They have seen, too, that one legislative interference is but the first link of a long chain of repetitions, every subsequent interference being naturally produced by the effects of the preceding.” –James Madison

Barack Hussein Obama, intent on increasing your taxes in January by way of letting the Bush-era tax reductions expire (ostensibly to reduce the deficits Democrats created), has launched a ruse to steal the budget-cutting thunder of his Republican opponents.

First, Obama ordered a freeze on bonuses for some 3,000 of his high-paid political appointees. Then he announced a freeze on the wages of all federal workers for the next two years.

One Social Security administrator summed up the reaction of her fellow federal union workers: “That’s why Obama’s ratings are below Bush’s, and that’s hard to be unless you’re Osama bin Laden. I can’t wait until I retire.”

Well, given the fact that federal bureaucrats (Defense Department notwithstanding) are now endowed with grossly disproportionate wages and benefits, one can understand why retirement remains attractive for them. On the other hand, millions of private sector citizens will be working well beyond retirement age in order to make ends meet, especially given the increased tax burdens they’ll likely incur in the future to pay off Obama’s deficit.

Let’s review the most recent data.

Compared to more productive private sector employees, whose income is confiscated to pay government wages and benefits, hourly government workers are paid 57 percent more than those in the private sector for comparable jobs ($28.64/hour vs. $18.27/hour). Salaried bureaucrats enjoy average annual wages of $78,901, while those in the private sector average $50,111, and the number of bureaucrats collecting more than $150,000 a year has doubled since Obama took office.

When benefits such as taxpayer-funded contributions to pensions are included, government bureaucrats end up with 85 percent more compensation than their private sector comparables.

On top of that disparity, bureaucrat jobs are virtually tenured, both recession proof and unaffected by a dearth of productivity. Benjamin Franklin once famously said, “Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Today, however, you can add government jobs to the short list of guarantees.

Notably, Obama did not order a freeze on government hiring, and I can assure you that the number of exemptions for government agency wage freezes will eventually equal the number of government agencies. Additionally, Obama didn’t freeze promotions, meaning that any federal worker can receive a de facto pay raise by “promotion” into the next incremental GSA scale.

Since the beginning of the current recession, private sector employment is down 6.8 percent. On the other hand, Obama has used taxpayer funds and debt on future generations, his so-called “recovery program,” to grow the ranks of central government bureaucrats by more than 10 percent in the same time period.

To that end, a comprehensive research report by economists Bill Dupor (Ohio State University) and Timothy Conley (University of Western Ontario) concluded, “Our benchmark results suggest that the ARRA created/saved approximately 450 thousand state and local government jobs and destroyed/forestalled roughly one million private sector jobs.”

Of course, Obama’s wage-freeze charade fails to put any noticeable dent into his accumulating $1,000,000,000,000-plus deficits. Taxes, he says, must be increased to do that.

Once again, let’s review.

Like any devoted Socialist, Obama’s objective is to break the back of free enterprise, in this case, with unbearable deficits. When challenged about his motives, Obama invariably claims that he “inherited this mess” from the Bush administration.

However, the Executive Branch does not set the budget. Congress does. And from the ‘09 budget forward, budget deficits have increased greatly.

For the record, Democrats have controlled Congress since January 2007, about the time the housing market collapse began. Thus, Democrats controlled the budgets for FY2008 and FY2009 as they did with FY2010 and FY2011.

Obama Deficits Chart

For FY2008 Democrats compromised with President Bush on spending. However, for FY2009 Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid bypassed the Bush administration by way of continuing resolutions until Barack Obama took office.

Again, for the record, Obama was a member of the Senate majority in 2007 and 2008, and he voted for those spending bills.

The last budget deficit that Democrats “inherited” was FY 2007, the last of the Republican congressional budgets. That deficit was the lowest in five years, and it was the fourth straight decline in deficit spending. Thus, the only deficit Obama has inherited is that which he and his Democrat majorities generated.

Those pesky facts notwithstanding, a Republican majority is about to take over the House, and Republicans in the Senate seem to have found a spine.

If Republicans are serious about budget and deficit control, they should start by cutting their own bloated salaries and budgets. There is no greater sweetheart deal than being elected to our national legislature, where members of Congress are paid exorbitantly, and are eligible for lifetime benefits after “serving” for just five years – one term for Senators. If they are perpetually elected, as is the case with many members, they are eligible for almost 80 percent of their salary as a guaranteed annual pension.

Membership certainly has its privileges.

If members of Congress don’t like the pay cuts, perhaps we can cut their time accordingly. Send them home more often, and see if a little of the reality outside the Beltway sinks in.

As my colleague Cal Thomas opined this week, “The Founders were keenly aware of the danger of a Congress divorced from the realities of the rest of the country. During the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Roger Sherman of Connecticut wrote, 'Representatives ought to return home and mix with the people. By remaining at the seat of government, they would acquire the habits of the place, which might differ from those of their constituents.’”

If Republicans are really serious about the constitutional role of government, they should identify any and all taxes and expenditures not expressly authorized by our Constitution, and schedule them for termination. While they are at it, they should revoke congressional exemptions, and make themselves subject to the same laws and regulations they impose upon the rest of us. (Oh, and Mr. Speaker-to-be, return Pelosi’s opulent Boeing 757 to the Air Force, and settle for something smaller.)

For his part, poor Barry Obama lamented this week that he might have to delay his “holiday vacation” to Hawaii in order to get his tax-and-spend agenda through Congress. (How many golf outings and exotic vacations must our nouveau riche lotto winner take?)

Perhaps Obama should take a tax lesson from John Kennedy, the father of the modern Democrat party: “A tax cut means higher family income and higher business profits and a balanced federal budget…. As the national income grows, the federal government will ultimately end up with more revenues. Prosperity is the real way to balance our budget. By lowering tax rates, by increasing jobs and income, we can expand tax revenues and finally bring our budget into balance.”

Indeed, tax reductions in each of the last five administrations have resulted in tax revenue increases to the fed’s coffers.

Publisher’s Note: The Patriot Post’s role as a national advocate for Essential Liberty and leader of the charge to restore the integrity of our Constitution is more vital now than ever. It will, at best, take several election cycles to re-establish the primacy of First Principles and Rule of Law, and to reset our course toward Liberty. So our work continues in earnest. Please help us maintain that momentum with your support of our Annual Campaign.