NOREEN: Git 'er done or don't get paid

BARRY NOREEN Updated: September 14, 2012 at 12:00 am • Published: September 14, 2012

The reality for most of us is that if we don’t do our jobs we won’t get paid, and we might get fired.

With that in mind, Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., tried to launch the No Budget, No Pay law in December 2011. It simply required that if Congress failed to approve budget or appropriations legislation by Oct. 3 each year, members of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives would not be paid.

Because few congressmen were willing to put such a gun to their own heads, the idea went nowhere. After all, who would want to risk losing a $174,000 salary?

Cooper’s idea was resurrected this week by Dave Anderson, the independent candidate challenging incumbent Republican 5th District Congressman Doug Lamborn.

“As a concept, it’s really easy to talk about,” Anderson said. “I believe it is an obligation.”

It’s hard to argue with the basic premise. Congress may choose not to address a constellation of issues each year, but the one minimal thing it ought to be able to do is to pass a budget — just as the town board in Calhan does.

If you’ve been reading the headlines, you know that after the November election, regardless of who wins the presidency, a lame-duck session of Congress will have to reach a budget compromise. If it doesn’t, the Congressional Budget Office has dutifully reported, America will plunge over a fiscal cliff, unemployment will rise and chaos will ensue.

You know what will happen. Congress will drag its feet until a chorus of news reports tell of impending doom.

At the last minute, a deal will be reached, which means the problem will be kicked down the road for another six months or so. At that point in the perpetual cliffhanger there will be more fabricated drama and another deal will be reached that resolves none of our budget dilemmas.

“We’ve got to change how we do things,” Anderson said.

Election year gamesmanship by Anderson? OK, but since Anderson has no chance of beating Lamborn, all he can do is raise issues and when it comes to the annual budget fiasco, both parties are guilty.

Under the No Budget No Pay law, Congress would have 17 more days to get it done or suffer the consequences. In addition to stopping their paychecks, it would be a good idea to end their mailing privileges and cushy health care benefits, too.

Congressmen “think that by dividing, they win. In fact, is causes us to lose,” Anderson said.

Throwing the rascals out is a nice sentiment, but most congressional districts are safe, so the incumbents are not threatened. No Budget No Pay?

Let’s try it.

Listen to Barry Noreen on KRDO NewsRadio 105.5 FM and 1240 AM at 6:35 a.m. on Fridays and follow him on Facebook or Twitter. Contact him at 719-636-0363 or barry.noreen@gazette.com

 

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