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Opinion: Washington’s priorties out of line, out of touch

Tyler Spaugh
Paul Heckert

Tyler SpaughThere are more than 120,000 military families currently living in the state of North Carolina, according to the North Carolina State Board of Education, and every one of them will receive a pay cut if one prominent Washington official has his way.

Last week, outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta suggested that the Department of Defense cut pay for military servicemen, according to the Washington Examiner.

To be fair, Panetta’s proposal is not law, and military pay cuts won’t take place without presidential and congressional approval.

At the end of last year, President Barack Obama authorized pay raises for Vice President Joe Biden, members of Congress and various other federal officials, highlighting just how out of touch most politicians on Capitol Hill are with the people that they are supposed to serve.

And we are on track to add $1 trillion to our national debt each of the next four years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Salaries for military members vary widely based on many factors, including rank and years of service.
But I can assure you that soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are not getting rich.

On the other hand, Congress and Biden are all making six figures. Of course, raising the pay of 539 federal employees by a few thousand dollars a year each is only a drop in the ocean of our $16 trillion worth of debt.
But what sort of message does it send?

Surely we are not rewarding our politicians for a job well done. Exact figures are difficult to come by, but millions of Americans have simply quit looking for a job and officially dropped out of the workforce. These people, though unemployed, do not officially count toward the unemployment rate, and this is the only reason why unemployment has dropped slightly to 7.9 percent.

If the best thing we as a nation can come up with to reduce our out-of-control spending is to cut the already low pay of the very men and women who are overseas fighting for our freedom, then we, as a nation, have failed.

There are plenty of things we can cut, but if Obama and Congress give themselves a pay raise while cutting salaries for our military, I will have lost a lot of my faith in Washington.

Perhaps I never should have placed any faith in them at all.

Spaugh, a freshman accounting major from Winston-Salem, is an opinion writer.

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