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    Posted November 29, 2012 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    The fiscal cliff: Messages to Washington

    Be Responsible With the Money You Do Have


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     JP01 does not believe the President and Congress will come to an agreement over the fiscal crisis before the December 31 deadline. 'In recent years, when facing budget deadlines, the only agreement made is to extend the deadline,' he said. He says this is because Republican and Democratic politicians are stubborn, and are not willing to compromise. He worries that if taxes are raised, it will directly impact him. 'I imagine I would need to look for two jobs instead of one so that I could pay off debt incurred during college, pay my bills, and survive,' he said. He says his advice to Congress is to stop wasting money. 'Congress spends money frivolously,' he said. 'Do not borrow from Peter to pay Paul.'
    - Jareen, CNN iReport producer

    Like a number of Americans, when times get tough extras go out the window in my house. This means packing a lunch and snacks and making coffee at home instead of splurging on Starbucks coffee. This is something Congress could and SHOULD learn from.

    Not too long ago I read a financial report on the spending habits of a certain government entity and I was shocked and enraged by what I learned. Government officials were routinely purchasing $8 cups of coffee, $16 dollar muffins, and "working" lunches were catered to the tune of upwards of $40 per person. In this economy it is somewhat shocking to me that people are willing to spend that amount of money when it clearly isn't necessary. And then to learn government officials are not spending their own money (ie:our tax dollars allotted for their personal use), but instead are using our tax dollars that have been allocated for the running and maintaining our country. That is truly despicable behavior and a gross mismanagement of money.

    Further, I find it ironic that our government justifies paying itself six figure salaries - especially in times of recession and poor economy - with flimsy excuses such as it will keep them from taking bribes (ha!) and/or that if they were to work in the private sector they would make sooo much more money, when the average American citizen makes $30-35 thousand dollars a year.

    1.) I'm fairly certain most Americans are aware that politicians take bribes on a daily basis...sure the politicians and their cronies call them "campaign donations," but we all know what they really are.

    2.) There are A LOT of people who work for the government that would have a huge jump in salary if they worked in the private sector. Yet, Congress has no interest in giving them six figure salaries to insure that the salaries of these individuals are competitive or to prevent them from taking bribes. I'm talking about our first responders, military, FBI, etc. - and I imagine some of the aforementioned have easier access to sensitive information than many of our politicians.

    3.) How on earth do people who earn upwards of three times the annual salary of the average American think they can properly represent the majority of their constituents? While the average constituent is worrying about the overcrowding of their children's' schools, the lack of extra curricular, the loss of the arts programs, etc., politicians have enrolled their children in schools who's annual tuition per child costs more than the average American makes in a year.
    While politicians are vehemently arguing for the need to decrease the DoDs budget we have service members who are losing their homes, Marines who have to make do with the Army's cast off, worn out equipment, and this is just the tip of the ice burg. (Ironically, there were reports of Congress members demanding F-16s fly over D.C. every fifteen minutes on 9/11. They sure do ask a lot while giving very little.)

    In general, Congress is out of touch with the average American and this is reflected in their spending habits.

    So, here is my idea of how Congress can start repairing the fiscal nightmare they have marched us into.
    1.) Stop paying themselves so much. Our country has incurred massive debt that our great grandchildren will still be paying off. Debt that Congress, as the fiscal managers of our country, were active participants in creating. If the average American, the people who voted Congress into office, the constituents whom Congress allegedly represents can live on under $40,000 a year, then surely Congress can take a substantial pay cut until they have fixed the mess they created.

    2.)Congress should learn from the people they are supposed to represent and manage the money they do have more effectively. This means either packing a lunch and making your own coffee (ahem, having their maid/cook pack their lunch and make them coffee) or using their salary to pay for their ridiculously expensive and extravagant coffees and lunches. Or hey, have a potluck for those "working" lunches.

    If Congress truly wants to fix our fiscal problems they should begin with our biggest fiscal problem - themselves.
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