Friday, March 17, 2006

Real Plans for Change

Sweeney is quoted in the paper today criticizing Gillibrand for her plan to vote against Congressional pay raises. Saying, "If they really wanted to address budget issues, Democrats should put forward a plan that reduces mandatory spending."

Gosh, when Democrats were in charge, they stuck with Pay as You Go fiscal responsibility. In 2002, the Republican Majority got rid of spending controls like caps on discretionary spending, and the pay-as-you-go rule for entitlement and tax legislation. The result of their irresponsible leadership is tax breaks for the wealthy, record pork spending, record deficits, and a struggling middle class. And the Senate voted against fully reinstating Pay As You Go rules this week, it failed in a tied 50-50 vote thanks to the Republican Majority. Every one of the 50 votes against reinstating PAYGO was a Republican. Under Bush, the debt limit has been increased 4 times. Under his administration, they've raised the debt limit by $3 trillion dollars. This week, congress voted to add another $781 billion to the debt for a total limit of almost $9 trillion dollars. Even when faced with the reality of paying for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and needed increases in security spending, in 2005, John Sweeney voted to make the estate tax repeal permanent. Can we afford to keep cutting and repealing taxes for the wealthy when we are increasing the debt burden on the working and middle classes? This week, the house also rejected a Democratic Amendment that would have increased funding for port security and disaster preparedness while the 07 Bush Budget proposes $1.7 billion in spending on Missile Defense - a Regan/Cold-War Era program that a) doesn't work and b) ignores the security threats that we face in the Post September 11th world.

Gillibrand calls for salary cap in Congress

by Maury Thompson, published in the Post Star 3/17/06

Democratic congressional candidate Kirsten Gillibrand on Thursday called for capping the salaries of federal lawmakers at the current level until the budget is balanced. Gillibrand, a lawyer from Hudson, announced her position on the same day the U.S. Senate passed a bill that would allow the national debt to increase to nearly $9 trillion. "I think the Congress and this administration has shown a lack of fiscal restraint," she said in a telephone interview. The current salary for rank-and-file members of Congress is $165,200. It is adjusted for inflation annually, unless Congress votes specifically not to take a cost-of-living adjustment. The raise has been around $4,000 annually over the past several years, which when multiplied by 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives amounts to more than $1.7 million, Gillibrand said. Gillibrand said if she is elected, she will vote against annual raises, and if Congress takes a raise, she will donate the amount of her raise to charity. Incumbent U.S. Rep. John Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, remained hospitalized on Thursday and was not able to respond directly to Gillibrand. In a prepared statement, Sweeney said, "Congress must address our national debt in a meaningful way that includes reduced spending." Offering to turn down cost-of-living adjustments is a typical political tactic, Sweeney said. "If they really wanted to address budget issues," he said, "Democrats should put forward a plan that reduces mandatory spending."

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