Federal workers are paying for lawmakers’ partisanship

If federal civil servants are now furloughed, so too should be White House employees, members of Congress and their staff. Everyone should have been allowed to use yearly earned annual leave against any payless furlough days. Remember, they have already gone three years without any salary increase. Payless furlough days are essentially a salary cut.

Both the president and Congress should have worked together over the past year. They should have put our fiscal house in order to end future threats of both sequestering and furloughs. They should have returned to the time when Congress held budget hearings for each department during the summer instead of taking a five-week vacation. They should have developed a budget, agency by agency to be adopted during an open process. Members of Congress, federal employees, the public, watchdog groups and media should have been afforded sufficient time to understand the full contents prior to adoption. Our fiscal 2014 full federal budget should have been adopted on time prior to the start of the new federal fiscal year on Oct. 1.

Hard-working civil servants pay taxes just like everyone else. The White House and Congress should be held accountable for their actions — or, in this case, inactions — just as employees are at end-of-the-year personnel evaluations. The president, members of Congress and their respective employees should be docked one full day’s pay for each day the 2014 budget is not adopted. They need to perform this most basic requirement of their jobs, which is passing a budget on time, just like federal civil servants do on a daily basis.

A better alternative to EPA’s emissions rules

Hard-working American families will be the hardest hit by the proposed new coal-fueled power plant standards announced by the Environmental Protection Agency (“Coal-state Dem candidates rip Obama for new EPA rules,” Sept. 20). The new regulations will increase electricity prices by requiring the use of costly, untested new emissions control equipment. By requiring oil and gas operators to change their business practices, the new standards also threaten to increase gasoline prices. 

Energy prices are regressive, of course, but the two-pronged threat of higher electricity and higher gasoline prices proposed by the EPA will impose hardships on the most vulnerable in our society.

Fortunately, there is a better path forward, one that allows American families to continue to take advantage of low-cost, reliable, coal-fueled electricity while advancing the administration’s climate goals.

First, the EPA should encourage the construction of high-efficiency coal plants, which would reduce climate emissions while promoting innovation. Second, the EPA should allow oil field operators to inject carbon dioxide as part of current business practices, to further reduce emissions by unleashing the commercial potential of geologic storage, helping keep a lid on gasoline prices. This alternative path is a triple win: continued use of clean, low-cost coal-fueled electricity; reasonable gasoline prices; and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

From Kipp Coddington, partner, KMCL Law - Washington, D.C.

Congress shouldn’t get paid during shutdown

I think Congress should have their paychecks stopped just like the rest of the federal employees, so they can see how it feels. Why should they be paid if they are not doing their jobs? 

If the furloughed employees are smart, they will march on Washington to protest this shutdown. Just because Congress can’t play nice in the sandbox, why should we all have to suffer the consequences of their dysfunctional behaviors? There are more furloughed employees then there are congressmen. If we all converge on the Capitol and protest this insanity, then maybe the president can get back to running the government. 

Congressmen were elected by the people to their positions, and they can be forced out as well, especially if they are not doing what they were hired to do. Paying them for not doing their job is a waste of government spending — think of all the money that would be saved it we didn’t pay their salaries. This is not fair to the American people, and it’s wrong to allow Congress to continue to jeopardize the economy this way and put us further in debt. 

From Kathleen Castello

Congress won’t change unless voters take action

Given all the rancor and turmoil in Washington now, it’s no surprise that, according to Monday’s CNN/ORC poll, only 10 percent of Americans say they approve of the job Congress, as an institution, is doing. If that wasn’t bad enough, 87 percent say they disapprove of the job federal lawmakers are doing.

Ironically, nine out of 10 House members who ran for reelection last year were returned to office. When you ask voters if they approve of their district lawmaker, an overwhelming majority say yes. Clearly, this is where the disconnect exists.

As long as the same people keep returning to Washington, the public’s dissatisfaction with Congress will remain high. Yes, it’s just like Albert Einstein said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results.”

How much longer do we have to wait until voters do something really different?

From Denny Freidenrich - Laguna Beach, Calif.