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Paying for time off

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Editorial: Oct. 25, 2013

ISSUE: Back pay to cover furlough time
OUR VIEW: Cost of Congressional inaction

The government shutdown has ended, at least for now. Congress put another temporary patch on its financial quagmire and kicked the proverbial can.

With this nation operating without a budget and frequently testing deadlines regarding debt limits, the global economy is at risk. The partial government shutdown earlier this month was just the latest sign that factions in Congress have put grandstanding ahead of governance.

While all groups were busy patting themselves on the back for their empty gestures, which allow a brief move from idiocy to what passes for normalcy, something slipped past most of us.

During this despicable furlough, some federal workers were out 16 days. Minus weekends and the federally observed Columbus holiday, typical 9-to-5 weekday employees missed about 11 shifts.

In its wisdom, Congress decided to retroactively pay everyone. In effect, the American public was billed for 11 or more days of work that was not done.

That’s not a furlough. That’s a paid vacation.

That’s not how it would be handled in the business world or any civilian enterprise. It’s not how it would be handled anywhere except government, where Congress fears the voting bloc comprised of federal employees more than the individual votes of frustrated citizens.

Very likely, some of those non-essential chores piled up. The work was waiting when these employees came back and in order to catch up, it would not be unexpected to learn that taxpayers also are footing the bill for overtime to clean up the furlough backlog. That’s overtime on top of payment already made for work left undone because of Congressional inaction.

How about America begins cleaning up the mess in Washington, D.C., by insisting that the government stop paying for work that hasn’t been done?

Not all of our friends working for the federal will embrace this viewpoint. Nothing in this diatribe should be construed as a criticism of federal employees. They are not at fault here.

But neither is the taxpaying public that is getting less than its money’s worth from the House and Senate only to be told that it should pay people ordered to stay home.

It’s just another sign of Congress’ willingness to spend our money freely to appease a special interest. While it is happy news for federal employees, these kind of expenses just add to the crippling federal deficit.

 

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.