…At least for elected officials.
I don’t think what I’m about to suggest is going to save more than the smallest fraction of the deficit, but it’s a very important symbolic move that needs to be made.
Congress (and all state legislatures as well) need to introduce laws that will cut all salaries and benefits of elected officials by half and permanently end ALL retirements benefits and pay for any and all elected officials.
I don’t care how many years you have served in the House or Senate or been President or any other elected official—you don’t have a right to any retirement benefits above what the general public gets. None (I’m willing to let the Presidents keep their 10 years of Secret Service protection after leaving office). And this is an important point. Because while the amount of money spent on retired elected officials every year probably doesn’t add up to one one-thousandth of one percent of our budget problems, but it is the symbolic move that’s important. The GOP especially needs to point out that these budget cuts are so important that they are willing to take a more than healthy cut to their own benefits. Right now 71% of Wisconsin supports Gov. Walker but he could get that number probably up another 10% if he proposed right now that he take a pay cut and will not take any benefits once he leaves office and the Republicans in the Wisconsin assembly pass a similar bill for all elected officials. 10% jump in the polls easy. Of course if we tried to do this Democratic officials would probably not only leave their states they would leave the country (and I’m okay with that). And every former elected official should surrender their obscenely good benefits voluntarily. After all, it is an honor to serve the public as an elected official, or so I thought…not a ticket to a lifetime of golden parachute level benefits.
As I said, this will do little to solve the budget problems, but it is necessary to convince the public that the GOP is serious about cutting wasteful spending. (And even if it only saves us a couple million, that’s still another couple million we won’t go even further into debt).