Show Some Integrity

Published: January 2, 2019

By Jim Lichtman
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As the partial shutdown of the federal government grinds on, we have learned that employees who have been furloughed will eventually be paid. That’s little consolation to those who literally live paycheck to paycheck with housing and other costs.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

“The shutdown is affecting parts of nine cabinet-level departments,” The New York Times writes (Jan. 1), “and as it drags on, anxieties are rising among the 800,000 federal employees who are either furloughed or working without pay. In one ominous sign, the federal Office of Personnel Management has posted a sample letter for mortgage companies and creditors on its website, giving guidance to federal employees on how to negotiate reduced payments.”

A sample letter for mortgage companies… and that’s going to work?

So, here we are… again, except this time, Trump is holding 60 percent of the American electorate hostage for a down payment of $5 billion for a wall they don’t want and originally told that Mexico would pay for it.

However, when each side digs in during this age of political brinkmanship, it only serves to reinforce cynicism toward Washington. One way to the handle the issue in the future is relatively simple: Hold them… ALL of them… accountable.

Incoming New York Congresswoman “Alexandria Ocasio Cortez,” USA Today writes (Dec. 27, 2018), “— who has already become an outspoken critic of congressional pay – said in a tweet last week that the next time the government shuts down, ‘Congressional salaries should be furloughed as well.’ ”

“It’s completely unacceptable that members of Congress can force a government shutdown on partisan lines & then have Congressional salaries exempt from that decision,” she tweeted. “Have some integrity.”

She’s right!

If I could perform some Harry Potteresque magic, (and that’s precisely what it would take due to a long drawn out explanation that wouldn’t get anywhere), I would enact the following legislation along these lines:

If Republicans and Democrats cannot find common ground and a shutdown – partial or otherwise – becomes unavoidable, the president, Congress and their entire staff must go without a paycheck for the first five days of a work week. Once the government reopens, everyone gets repaid. However, if the shutdown should continue 10 days or more, the president and all legislators will forfeit all back pay for however, long it lasts. This measure will not apply to their staff.

The next best solution?

Lean on them, and I mean, heavily.

Call, write, email and don’t stop until they come to agreement about the budget for an entire year!

Tell them you’re tired of being held hostage by Trump’s base and would like to see Senators, notably the leader of the Senate, to show some leadership against a man who doesn’t know how to legislate or negotiate and watches TV all day.

And if you’re a furloughed federal worker, you can begin with Senate Leader Mitch McConnell because he’s the one who has said that he doesn’t intend to even bring a bill to the floor for a single vote unless President What-his-name agrees to sign it.

Here’s a link for the contact form for Sen. McConnell.

Here’s the phone number for his Washington office: 202-224-2541

Here’s his mailing address:

The Honorable Mitch McConnell

317 Russell Senate Office Bldg.

Washington, DC 20510

When you write, you might ask him why he’s able to continue to receive a paycheck and you aren’t. Ask him why this is the third shutdown in a year! Ask him why he feels more beholden to 38 percent of Trump nation than you.

Ask him: what are you going to do about it, Mitch?

But please, do so respectfully.


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