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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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Comments (6)

Three issues:1) T... (Below threshold)
James H:

Three issues:

1) The bill would never pass Congress, let alone get Congress's signature;

2) Schwarzenegger's proposal appeals because he is trying to negotiate contracts with the state's unions. That brings pressure directly on them. In the federal government's case, the incentives misalign. Trimming the salary of a clerks in the Deparmtnet of Redundancey Department does not put pressure on congressional Democrats to pass a budget. Confine your cuts to their staffs, on the other hand ... ; and,

3) A large chunk of government work is performed by contractors. Cut civil servant pay and you still have to pay those contractors.

How about ALL Congress sala... (Below threshold)
GianiD:

How about ALL Congress salaries and all expenses, travel, food, staff, EVERTHING, until the sphincters do what they are paid to do.

Mr Tea needs to look deeper... (Below threshold)
Michael Davis:

Mr Tea needs to look deeper into the FLSA rules before he makes this suggestion. If an employee wages are reduced to minimum wage for this very reason, they are entitled to double the damages when pay is restored. So in essence, by cutting the wage to minimum wage, they will be awarded double their current salary for that period affected. Thus raising the debt even more by billions.

Arnie is all show and no go... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Arnie is all show and no go. The wage cut isn't going to happen.

Anyone got a spare nuke? Figure we can take out all the idiots in Sacramento and start over.

No budget? Hmmmm? Where hav... (Below threshold)
914:

No budget? Hmmmm? Where have I heard that before?

As an lower enlisted member... (Below threshold)
TRex:

As an lower enlisted member of the military, this sounds like a fantastic idea - Minimum wage in any state would be a raise.




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