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When the going gets tough, the tough get going

The only thing preventing the proposed $820 billion economic stimulus package from being approved is the House and Senate members reaching a compromise on the bill’s final wording.

The two legislative branches have haggled over the package for weeks. One version of the bill on the Senate side exceeded $900 billion. But that was before they trimmed $40 billion in state assistance. Many states, including North Carolina, are facing cuts in services to its citizens and a massive loss of government-related jobs as they struggle to balance their budgets.

Additionally, the Senate opted to halve the $13 billion earmarked for schools serving impoverished students and reduce, to $7.15 billion, money that would improve broadband Internet service in rural and underserved areas. Both those measures hit the Roanoke-Chowan area extremely hard.

All of this comes on the heels of last week’s news that another 598,000 Americans lost their jobs in January. That brings the total number of unemployed Americans to roughly 3.6 million, the highest in decades.

It would seem that Congress would want to lead by example during these harsh economic times. As American workers have seen first-hand, when their company is struggling, staff reductions soon follow.

Our government should not be immune from similar risks. Perhaps they should look at cutbacks from within their ranks.

I was sent the following plan last week. It made sense to me, so I’ve opted to share it with you:

Reduce the House of Representatives from the current 435 members to 218 and halve the Senate from 100 to 50 members (one per state). Additionally, reduce the remaining Congressional staff by 25 percent.

Here’s what we would save:

$44,108,400 reduction of congress members.

$282,100,000 for elimination of the reduced house member staff.

$150,000,000 for elimination of reduced senate member staff.

$59,675,000 for a 25 percent reduction of staff for remaining house members.

$37,500,000 for a 25 percent reduction of staff for remaining senate members.

$7,500,000,000 reduction in pork added to bills by the reduction of congress members.

Total savings: $8,073,383,400 per year (that’s 8 billion, 73 million, 383 thousand and 4 hundred dollars right off the bat).

The remaining representatives would need to work smarter and would need to improve efficiencies. It might even be in their best interests to work together for the good of our country.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going!

(Cal Bryant is Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index. He can be contacted at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.)