The math is compelling: if we do not make reductions approximating 25 percent of the military budget starting fairly soon, it will be impossible to continue to fund an adequate level of domestic activity even with a repeal of Bush's tax cuts for the very wealthy.(Hat tip: Mudville Gazette.)
I am working with a variety of thoughtful analysts to show how we can make very substantial cuts in the military budget without in any way diminishing the security we need. I do not think it will be hard to make it clear to Americans that their well-being is far more endangered by a proposal for substantial reductions in Medicare, Social Security or other important domestic areas than it would be by canceling weapons systems that have no justification from any threat we are likely to face.
This is not a new ploy by Rep. Frank. And, who knows, maybe there are DoD excesses that would allow a 25% cut. But it occurs to me that the Congress ought to be willing to share in the pain of the American people as we weather this economic downturn.
Therefore, I propose a 25% reduction in salaries of members of the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, all staffs of Senators and Representative and in the budgets for the all offices (in DC and all the local offices they operate) of said Senators and Representatives.
Congressmen currently pull in $174,000 per year. A 25% cut would drop $43,500 x 535 from the budget - a little over $23,000,000 dollars for all of Congress - just from Congressional pay. And would still leave our representatives $130,000 to live on and would keep them in the upper 10% of income levels. In fact, it would take their pay back to 1997 levels - about to where the Dow sits today.
Certainly, while it may not cover the cost of "an adequate level of domestic activity" - whatever that means in plain English- it would set a stirring example of patriotism and sacrifice on the part of our elected officials.
I further suggest, that, effectively immediately, that all travel on government aircraft by the "servants of the people" be billed out at actual cost rather than at airline rates. And that these servants pay regular postage for their mailings to their constituents rather than using a "franking privilege."
And, while they are at it, I suggest that our representatives go on record with any "voluntary" contributions they are making from their personal funds to the Treasury of the United States to help reduce the national debt and the burden on future voters.
Rep. Frank can lead the way.