Tuesday, October 26, 1999

Strickland: Congress must set budget example

Wants raises dropped if budget is cut

Enquirer Washington Bureau

        WASHINGTON — Rep. Ted Strickland challenged members of Congress to accept a cut in their own pay if they go forward with a plan to cut spending across the board for federal agencies.

        “If we are going to expect agencies of government and people who depend on vital federal programs to take a cut, then members of Congress should lead by example and accept a reduction in their salaries as well,” said Mr. Strickland, D-Lucasville.

        With a cost-of-living increase approved this year, members of Congress are scheduled to receive $141,300 in 2000, a 3.4 percent increase.

        House GOP leaders unveiled a plan late last week to slash almost all federal agency spending 1.4 percent to avoid dipping into Social Security funds to finance the 2000 budget.

        Mr. Strickland said the savings should be achieved through better prioritizing spending, not across-the-board cuts.

        Government experts and Democrats have warned that across-the-board cuts could affect federal agencies and programs drastically and cut good programs as well as bad.

        There also are predictions of layoffs of as many as 39,000 military personnel.

        Some of the programs likely to be affected, Mr. Strickland said, are Head Start, Meals on Wheels, WIC (Women, Infants and Children) and the National Institutes of Health.

        Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati, said he agreed with Mr. Strickland's proposal.

        “Members of Congress should take a hit like everybody else,” Mr. Chabot said. “We should not exempt ourselves.”

        A spokesman for Rep. John Boehner, R-West Chester, said he too thinks Congress should feel some of the pain.

        “Congress' budget will be cut by the same percentage as the rest of the government and if it isn't, Boehner won't vote for it,” said his spokesman Dave Schnittger.

        The Boehner aide added that the GOP plan does not require cuts in the salaries of federal workers.

        “We'll do whatever it takes to stop President Clinton and congressional Democrats from raiding the Social Security surplus,” Mr. Schnittger said.


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