The Conversation

Army of Debt sighting, as Obama takes a pay cut

President Obama ostentatiously announced that he'd be returning 5 percent of his $400k salary to the Treasury for the rest of 2013, in a "show of solidarity with federal workers smarting from government-wide spending cuts."

In addition to the many things that are silly about this gesture, alert taxpayers should consider it another sighting of the Army of Debt on the march.  That geyser of deficit money blasting out of Washington throughout the Obama and late Bush years was used to hire a huge number of people - a 13 percent growth in federal employment since 2007, even as private employment fell by 5 percent.  

Those employees are now a meat shield against spending cuts.  We're supposed to believe that even a modest reduction in the rate of spending growth is a bone-chilling blizzard of austerity with a horrendous human cost, with our helpless President unable to do anything except throw another $1600 into the black hole of the U.S. Treasury every month for the rest of this year, to show how much he cares.  

Just imagine what you'll hear if anyone actually tries to cut spending, for real.  They would face condemnation as heartless monsters, callously willing to drive up unemployment by tossing thousands of federal workers onto the cold, unforgiving street.  No one on the Left is much concerned about private sector job loss - that's just a bit of too bad, a small price to pay for the glories of ObamaCare or a higher minimum wage.  But the loss of government jobs is an unbearable national tragedy.  

If you liked the "firemen first" strategy of making sequestration painful for the American people, wait until you hear the earth-shaking howls of rage and pain that would greet, say, the kind of spending cuts needed to merely restore the government to its bloated Bush size.  State and local payrolls have declined, and even federal hiring has trimmed back a little recently, but a return to the federal staff requirements of 2008 would involve permanently losing several hundred thousand federal jobs.  There will reportedly be tens of thousands of "navigators" hired to assist people with filling out the huge pile of confusing ObamaCare paperwork - 15 to 21 pages of forms, 61 pages of instructions.  If ObamaCare were repealed, that would "wipe out" tens of thousands of navigator jobs.  The Army of Debt will ensure that any such reform is unthinkable.


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