Facebook's Grand Bargain

Facebook's Grand Bargain July 21, 2011

The following is making the rounds on Facebook as a smug, “just-folks like me are so much smarter than all those idiots in Washington” piece of myth-making:

Salary of the US President. ..$400,000. Salary of retired US Presidents …$180,000. Salary of House/Senate…$174, 000. Salary of Speaker of the House…$223,500… Salary of Majority/Minority Leaders… $193,400… Average Salary of Soldier DEPLOYED IN IRAQ $38,000… I think we have found where the cuts should be made! If you agree… repost.

OK, let’s give this the benefit of the doubt by rounding up to maximize the budget-cutting magic. Let’s say that every member of Congress gets paid the presidential salary cited here of $400,000 a year. And then let’s say we could simply eliminate all those salaries.

That would total about $215 million in budget savings.

Or about 0.00006 percent of the federal budget.

I realize that’s not really the point of the silly social media spam above. That’s not really intended to offer any serious ideas about balancing the budget, only to reassure the posters and re-posters of their own virtue and superior intelligence. But if you happen to get hit with that post from someone who is also at all interested in the actual problem of the actual deficit, you might want to show them this graph, from Austin Frakt, which Ezra Klein calls “the graph all budget discussions should start with.”

Congressional and presidential salaries are not really the place to look for savings for anyone seriously interested in balancing the budget by cutting spending instead of by restoring revenue by putting the 14 million unemployed Americans back to work.

But then I don’t understand why anyone would want to try to balance the budget by cutting spending instead of by putting the unemployed back to work.

Unless they just really don’t like unemployed people.

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