Follow Him If You Want To Live

Blog-buddy and occasional Wizbang commeter “Proof” of Say Anything has a link to an interesting development in California. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has found a novel way to cut state spending, at least in the short term: he’s cutting the pay of many state workers to the minimum wage.

The reasoning is clever: the state has reached pay agreements with many of the unions representing employees, but not all of them, and the state has not passed a budget. So there is nothing in writing that dictates what the state has to pay them. However, there is a minimum wage law which sets the floor, so that’s what they will be paid.

Oh, I’m certain that they will eventually come to terms with those unions, and it will be backdated to cover the period when they were paid minimum wage, but this achieves several things. First, it saves the state a little money in the short term. (Not necessarily a good thing; it most likely only postpones and worsens the inevitable reckoning.) Second, it gives those unions serious incentive to settle with the state very quickly — because while the workers’ takehome will be seriously affected, I doubt it will reduce their union dues correspondingly.

The question I have that Proof doesn’t address is this: could this principle apply on the federal level? We have no federal budget, months after the Democrats were legally required to submit one, and they say they simply might not do one this year. This causes serious problems for some government agencies.

So here’s my suggestion for the Republicans in Congress: propose a bill to reduce all federal employees’ salaries to minimum wage until a budget is passed. Every single federal employee, no exception: IRS copier monkeys, members of the military, letter carriers, judges, food inspectors, members of Congress and their staffs, even the president. Everyone who gets their pay check signed by Uncle Sam goes to minimum wage until a budget is passed.

Schwarzenegger’s reasoning in California applies quite nicely: there is no budget setting aside any money for payroll, but they have to be paid at least the minimum wage. State that you have no problem making up the money later, but in the meantime it ain’t the Republican’s fault that there is no budget that would include money for the federal payroll.

As someone once said (I forget who), “elections have consequences.” The Democrats wanted control, and they got it. They took both Houses of Congress in 2006, and the White House in 2008. They fought like hell for their current position of power.

Well, that power comes with responsibility. It’s well past time they were held responsible.

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