Obama and his Democratic cohorts incessantly lecture the American people about “shared sacrifice” in these times of economic crisis. Obama just last week set limits on executive pay at companies that have taken government loans. The Democratic Congress (led by Senator Chris Dodd) then one-upped Obama by setting strict limits on executive bonuses as well. The Democratic cabal of Obama/Reid/Pelosi describe raising taxes on the wealthy as “fair” on news programs virtually every hour of every day. Every mention out of the mouths of liberal Democratic politicians is about the sacrifice that should be made by CEO’s, executives, and high-income taxpayers. I agree- everyone should sacrifice. But shouldn’t “everyone” include government and Obama’s supporters too?
I will agree with President Obama on one topic. I agree that executives from companies that take taxpayer money must play by a new set of rules. Once you accept money from the government, strings are attached. Uncle Sam is calling the shots. And government has a right and responsibility to protect taxpayers (from excessive compensation). CEO’s and other executives of private companies have every right- with Board of Directors and shareholder approval- to take any compensation packages and golden parachutes they deem acceptable. But they don’t have a right to award obscene compensation packages when they are living off loans from taxpayers. I do not feel sorry for these CEO’s or executives- they brought this all upon themselves. The lesson for corporations is simple: NEVER again accept money from government.
But the real question is why should CEO’s and high-income taxpayers be the only ones asked to sacrifice? If we are in a once-in-a-lifetime crisis, doesn’t everyone have to sacrifice- even Obama’s voters and contributors? When Obama gives “tax cuts” to the 40% of Americans who don’t pay taxes in the first place, exactly how are they sacrificing? When Obama talks about sacrifice, how come he never mentions rank and file autoworkers? You mean blue-collar union members who get paid $160,000 per year in salary, pension and health benefits to drill rivets into fenders, shouldn’t be asked to sacrifice? You mean their obscene compensation packages aren’t part of the problem? If you do the math, it isn’t the CEO making $5 million per year that is bankrupting auto companies. It is bloated union contracts awarding hundreds of thousands of autoworkers the obscene amount of $160,000 each that is bankrupting the “Big 3” automakers. Why isn’t Obama asking the auto unions to sacrifice? Could it be because they bribed him (legally) with multi-million dollar contributions and millions of man-hours campaigning for him (manning phone banks, going door to door, licking envelopes, etc)? Could this whole idea of sacrifice be a cynical political ploy?
If it isn’t all about politics, how do you explain that Obama has not asked teachers to sacrifice a thing? Or college professors. Or federal government employees. Or state and local government employees. Or union members. As the old lady in the Burger King commercials might have said, “Obama, where’s the shared sacrifice?” Because I don’t see any sacrifice coming from Obama’s side of the table. While 50 states are in recession, guess whose economy is still booming? The District of Columbia. The hiring and spending of government goes on unabated during this unprecedented economic crisis. So where’s the sacrifice in D.C?
I certainly don’t see the sacrifice coming from Senators and Congresspersons. Have they agreed to cut their salaries until this economic crisis is over? Last I checked, many of Obama’s cabinet appointees have admitted they don’t even pay their fair share of taxes. His Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner- tax cheat. His Health & Human Services appointee Tom Daschle- tax cheat. Nancy Killefer, his choice for Chief Performance Officer- tax cheat. His Labor Secretary Hilda Solis- her husband appears to be a tax cheat. Don’t forget the Democratic Congressman in charge of tax policy Charles Rangel- tax cheat. It’s pretty easy to spread the wealth around, when you don’t pay any taxes yourself. It’s pretty easy to point fingers and rail about sacrifice, when you don’t think those same rules apply to you.
When Obama uses the economic stimulus money to hire 600,000 new federal employees, where’s the sacrifice for those 600,000 new Democratic voters? When Obama hires 100,000 new teachers, where’s the sacrifice for those 100,000 new Democratic voters? Not only are none of those people being asked to sacrifice today, they are now set to receive government salaries, cost of living increases, obscene pensions, and health care benefits for LIFE. We (the taxpayers) are on the hook for these new government employees for the next 50 or more years- no matter how bad the economy is. And unlike the private sector, they have a guaranteed job for life; generous paid holidays throughout the year; and the right to retire at age 45 or 50 (with almost full pay for LIFE). Where’s the sacrifice of this privileged government class?
As 600,000 Americans per month lose their jobs in the private sector, why isn’t government laying off hundreds of thousands of employees? Why are state and local employees in my home state of Nevada facing no layoffs and getting their annual pay RAISES, while small businesspersons like me are laying off workers; taking huge pay cuts; putting our own personal money into our business in a desperate attempt to survive; or going out of business. Where’s the “shared sacrifice?”
Why should Obama ask business owners to sacrifice so that government employees can get pay raises in the worst economy of our lifetimes? Why should businesses sacrifice and lay off employees, while government continues hiring like everything is fine? Why are government union employees getting awarded with privileges that no one in the private sector could hope for? No one I know in business gets guaranteed jobs for life; or guaranteed cost of living and “step up” pay increases; or bloated pensions of almost their full last year’s salary; or gets to retire at age 45 or 50 after only 20 years of work; or gets health care paid for by taxpayers for LIFE. I know no one getting any of those things in the private sector. I have no pension of any kind. Who created this privileged class? Why don’t government employees have to sacrifice like the rest of us?
I have no trouble with Obama asking me to pay higher taxes, or asking CEO’s to limit their pay, as long as he agrees to massive layoffs and pay cuts for government employees. As long as he agrees to cut government spending dramatically, as opposed to increasing it while I’m busy cutting spending and sacrificing. As long as he demands that auto unions re-structure union contracts agreed to in more prosperous times, that now threaten to bankrupt their employers. If Obama is going to ask for sacrifice, then we all have to be rowing in the same boat, in the same direction. But some of us cannot be benefiting, while others sacrifice.
From my side of the street- as the taxpayer that is being asked to pay for all this government theft and waste, I just don’t see any “fairness” in President Obama’s message of sacrifice. I see a cynical political ploy to punish private sector taxpayers who traditionally don’t vote Democrat; and reward those who live off government jobs and handouts- and who just happen to vote Democrat. I see a cynical political ploy to rob Peter to pay Paul- so that the private sector that supports conservative candidates and causes is weakened… and Obama’s Democratic supporters are flush with cash to contribute to future Democratic campaigns.
When Obama blames CEO’s of failed banks and Wall Street companies and wants to hold them responsible, I agree. But who holds failed government employees responsible? Government agencies waste and spend and lose billions- just like Wall Street did in the Fall of 2007. Isn’t the U.S. Postal Service failing? Isn’t it losing billions of dollars per year? Isn’t the public school system failing badly? Is Obama holding those government employees responsible or accountable? The big difference is that government has been losing money every year since inception, while Wall Street and banks just had one bad year. The other difference of course is that no matter how much money government loses, they just ask taxpayers for more. Obama asking the CEO’s of private industry to be responsible and accountable is the very definition of audacity.
This Obama economic stimulus bill has nothing remotely to do with “shared sacrifice.” It’s a massive vote-buying-scheme. It’s about expanding the size of government and the privileged government employee class. It’s about expanding the size of the Democratic Party. It’s about making more people dependent on welfare and government handouts. It’s about forcing one group- the people who didn’t vote for Obama- to do all the sacrificing. I don’t mind sacrificing. To the contrary, I’ll do anything to save this great country. We are facing a once-in-a-lifetime economic tsunami that demands sacrifice from everyone. But with all due respect Mr. President, “everyone” includes government, government employees, Washington D.C. bureaucrats, politicians on both sides of the aisle, and your supporters. So next time you lecture us on “shared sacrifice,” try to share some of it.
Wayne Allyn Root was the 2008 Libertarian Vice Presidential candidate. His new book will be released by John Wiley & Sons this Spring entitled, “The Conscience of a Libertarian: Empowering the Citizen Revolution with God, Guns, Gambling & Tax Cuts.” The book is available for pre-sale at Amazon.com. Wayne also happens to be Barack Obama's college classmate (Columbia University Class of '83). For more of Wayne's views, commentaries, or to watch his many media interviews, please visit his web site at: www.ROOTforAmerica.com