How about a fantasy to occupy the reader’s fancy during the waning days of summer? Here’s one that occurred to me on a torrid August day this past week.
How about sending the 535 members of Congress, the president and nine members of the U.S. Supreme Court on leave along with their multitude of staffers until a new president is installed in January, 2017. Think of the savings that’d occur with these folks gone until a new president is in office, two and one-half years from now. Their salaries alone exceed millions of dollars, as each member of Congress receives at least $174,000 in direct pay alone; the president’s salary is $400,000 with the White House overflowing with aides, while the justices each receive $213,000 and all their legal beagle helpers.
Why? Well, for openers, congressional ratings are so low there’s no space between where they lie in lack-of-public-approval and daylight. More Americans than at any other time think their representative or senator ought to find legitimate work.
The Republicans are forecast to gain as many as 12 seats in the House, strengthening their hold on the majority. Gerrymandering rules! Meanwhile, they have shown a total lack of willingness to work with President Obama while the Senate, whose Democrat majority is threatened, can get little done due to partisan fighting and, when it does vote in favor of anything, it soon dies in the House. Obama has used his executive power but can do nearly nothing about overripe domestic issues.
The bottom line is the American people would be considerably better off if everything government in Washington, D.C. would take a powder for a chance that the nation would heal and that, afterwards, its elected representative would work in Washington. Maybe even the House, under new members and leadership in 2017, would find something constructive to do other than the ill-advised threats to Obama. Hence, leave the states alone to work out their needs without federal meddling that amounts to nothing more than unwarranted costs to middle class Americans.
If everything D.C. shut down for a healthy period, the states could use their tax dollars to accomplish matters of pressing local importance. It’s interesting that for the states in the old Confederacy, those whose citizens complain about the federal government and want it smaller, are in fact the states that receive the greatest financial benefit from big government. For example, for every dollar Mississippi sends to Washington, D.C., it receives $2.02 back. A person guesses that in Mississippi, those folks hold their noses while they Dixie-down the “bacon,” turning a blind eye to the fact that over 40 percent of their state’s budget is complements of Washington.
In Oregon, we’d do better if we could get away from the federal government octopus for two and a half years, as we receive $0.93 for every dollar we send back East. Incidentally, out of the collection of states in the old Confederacy, only Florida (97 cents) and Texas at (94 cents) give more than they get.
If things were broken up into smaller bite-size pieces for what could be a healing length of time, the Tea Partiers and all the anti-government saboteurs might think twice about being so against everything American. Those people are only interested in what serves themselves and no one else: so they can do whatever they want to do, whenever they want to do it, wherever they want to do it.
It is not the view of this writer that every government official and employee is bad news. However, it would appear that a lop-sided majority of them are bad news. Something fairly drastic is in order in hope it would break the grossly broken dysfunction that represents Washington, D.C., circa 2014. So, let’s give this fantasy a chance. It’s a plan whose time is overdue.
(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer. His column appears regularly in the Keizertimes.)