C. D. Book

GOP Target: Everyman

In Economy, Politics on April 7, 2011 at 8:53 am

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Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), Chairman of the Budget Committee revealed his proposed 2012 budget on April 5.  The misleading title of the proposal is Path to Prosperity (pdf).

The media were mostly focused on Ryan’s changes to Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and tax rates. That’s to be expected: the “path to prosperity” only applies to the wealthy, corporations and big oil.  The poor, the middle-class, the elderly and the disabled are on the road to ruin (or worse).

Included in Ryan’s budget is the plan to freeze the salaries of federal employees  for 5 years and reduce their “generous benefits”.  The GOP, either at the state or federal level, is intent on attacking public workers. The lie they tell is that public employees are paid too much.  According to the Office of Personnel Management  (OPM) the average salary for federal civilian employees (data excludes the Post Office and most intelligence agencies) at the end of fiscal year 2010 was $76,586. Nearly half (48%) of federal employees had either a four year college degree or an advanced degree during the same time period. OPM states that their educational data should be “treated at the lower bounds since education level is recorded at the time of  hire and is only updated at the employees’ initiative thereafter”. These employees work for various agencies of the executive branch including Treasury, Veterans Affairs, Justice, Environmental Protection, Homeland Security, Commerce, Defense, NASA, etc.

If salaries are frozen and benefits reduced government won’t be able to attract well-educated individuals to public service. This of course is the same argument Wall Street posited for paying billions in salaries and bonuses: without those obscene paydays the “best and the brightest” would go elsewhere. Compare Wall Street-the gamblers who nearly destroyed our economy and were then bailed out with taxpayer money-to the average federal employee.  An average annual salary of  $76, 586 is *not* too much to pay for example a Justice Department lawyer or a Treasury CPA. Get real.

Why are public employees thought of as almost a different species from the rest of us? Public employees include teachers, firemen, policemen, lawyers, janitors, museum directors, accountants, chemists, professors, social workers and the list goes on. They too have families to feed and mortgages to pay. Public employees aren’t a homogenous group and shouldn’t be a constant target for legislators who desire to reduce the quality of life for all Americans except the wealthy and already privileged.

Congressman Ryan rewards corporations, the rich, banks, oil companies and Wall Street in his budget. His victims include the poor, the elderly, the disabled, the middle-class, public employees, the environment and future generations of Americans.

David Brooks thinks Ryan is a visionary as evidenced by his sycophantic NYT column  referring to the congressman as “a powerful elected official willing to issue a proposal, willing to take a stand, willing to face the political perils” and referring to his budget proposal as”the most comprehensive and most courageous budget reform proposal any of us have seen in our lifetimes”.

Since when does it take courage to be a corporate boot-licker? Ryan + his budget = typical GOP swill. Keep moving, there’s nothing  to see here, nothing new and certainly nothing courageous.

copyright 2011 XtraOpinion C.D. Book


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