The Edmond Sun

Opinion

July 22, 2013

OUR VIEW: Throw out government cheaters

EDMOND — Conservatives for decades have argued that government is too bloated, that the United States is becoming over-regulated and that both conditions are harmful to our economic future.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, and Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., have highlighted an issue that just proves that the U.S. government truly needs a good pruning.

More than 311,000 federal employees and retirees now owe a total of $3.5 billion in federal taxes, according to the IRS. That’s right — billion with a “b.”

According to a fact sheet released by Coburn’s office, the IRS has found the following delinquencies:

• Of the delinquent employees, 107,658 are currently employed by the government owing a total of $1.013 billion in unpaid taxes.

• There are 141,980 military and civilian retirees owing $2.1 billion in unpaid taxes.

Of the departments highlighted in Coburn’s report, the highest number of offenders work for the U.S. Postal Service. There are 22,404 employees owing more than $215 million in delinquent taxes. Even more eye-popping are the 2,552 employees of the Department of Justice — you know, the department tasked with prosecuting crimes — who owe more than $20 million in back taxes.

Employees of the House of Representatives and the Senate are not any more honest than some of their fellow government workers. Records show as of 2011 there were 688 employees of those two bodies who owe more than $10 million in back taxes. And let’s not forget the 40 employees of the Executive Office of the White House who owe $333,485 in unpaid taxes.

We completely agree with Sen. Coburn that it’s wrong for American taxpayers to pay the salaries of tax cheats. His and Sen. Pryor’s proposal to fix the problem deserves more attention. Senate bill 1045 calls for federal employees with seriously delinquent taxes to no longer be eligible for their jobs. A similar bill was approved in the House last year.

We’re not sure why both houses of Congress cannot get this commonsense bill passed into law as it should be the easiest debate all year. Especially as federal employees in Oklahoma — and elsewhere — begin their furloughs brought on by sequestration, it seems painfully obvious that the government has the means to collect revenue it’s owed.

That revenue could have helped those sequestered employees keep more money in their pocketbooks as they face back-to-school clothing and supply costs.

The fact that federal workers are continuing to collect paychecks while breaking the law is demoralizing and infuriating. Leading by example would go a long way toward restoring some small amount of trust and faith in our government.

The fact that Senate leadership did not call this bill up for a vote shows they are not paying attention to the American people’s desire for better government.

If you want Senate Bill 1045 to stop sitting idly in the Senate, voice your opinion to Senate leadership.

Call or email Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and demand that they do something to end the sorry state of cheating in the federal government.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Why poverty across the world matters to Americans

    A child starving in South Sudan should matter to Americans. That was the message delivered last week by Nancy Lindborg, whose job at the U.S. Agency for International Development is to lead a federal bureau spreading democracy and humanitarian assistance across the world.
    That world has reached a critical danger zone, with three high-level crises combining military conflict with humanitarian catastrophes affecting millions of innocents in Syria, the South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
    But back to that child.

    April 18, 2014

  • Government leadership complicit in overfilling prisons

    One of the thorniest problems facing any society is the question of what to do with transgressors. Obviously, the more complicated a culture becomes, the more factors come into play in trying to figure out what to do with those who choose not to “play by the rules.”

    April 18, 2014

  • My best days are ones normal people take for granted

    It is a weekend for working around the house. My fiancee, Erin, and I have the baby’s room to paint and some IKEA furniture to assemble. I roll out of bed early — 10:30 — and get into my wheelchair. Erin is already making coffee in the kitchen.
    “I started the first wall,” she says. “I love that gray.” Erin never bugs me about sleeping late. For a few months after I was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, I often slept 15 hours a day. The doctors said my body needed to heal. It must still be healing because I hardly ever see 8 a.m. anymore.

    April 18, 2014

  • Instead of mothballing Navy ships, give them to our allies

    A bitter debate has raged in the Pentagon for several months about the wisdom of taking the nuclear aircraft carrier George Washington out of service to save money. The Washington, at 24 years old a relatively young vessel, is due for a costly refit, a routine procedure that all of the 11 large carriers in service undergo regularly.

    April 18, 2014

  • The pessimist’s guide to grizzly bears and Earth Day

    This coming Friday, to “celebrate Earth Day,” the Walt Disney Co. will release one of those cutesy, fun-for-all-ages, nature documentaries. “Bears” is about grizzly bears.
    The trailer says, “From DisneyNature comes a story that all parents share. About the love, the joy, the struggle and the strength it takes to raise a family.”
    Talk about your misguided “Hollywood values.” I previously have acknowledged a morbid, unreasonable fear of grizzly bears, stemming from a youth misspent reading grisly grizzly-attack articles in Readers Digest. This fear is only morbid and unreasonable because I live about 1,500 miles from the nearest wild grizzly bear. Still. ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Digging out of the CIA-Senate quagmire

    Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voted to declassify parts of its report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program. The White House, the CIA and the Senate still have to negotiate which portions of the report will be redacted before it is made public. But this is an important step in resolving the ugly dispute that has erupted between the intelligence committee and the intelligence agency.
    The dispute presents two very serious questions. Was the program consistent with American values and did it produce valuable intelligence? And is effective congressional oversight of secret activities possible in our democracy?

    April 15, 2014

  • Los Angeles Times: Congress extend jobless benefits again

    How’s this for irony: Having allowed federal unemployment benefits to run out in December, some lawmakers are balking at a bill to renew them retroactively because it might be hard to figure out who should receive them. Congress made this task far harder than it should have been, but the technical challenges aren’t insurmountable. Lawmakers should restore the benefits now and leave them in place until the unemployment rate reaches a more reasonable level.

    April 14, 2014

  • Many nations invested in Israel

    Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Yoram Ettinger recently spoke to a gathering at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma City. The event began with a presentation by Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, who told the attendee that the  upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover was an occasion for them to embrace the children of God, which is all of humanity.

    April 14, 2014

  • Coming soon: More ways to get to know your doctor

    Last week, the federal government released a massive database capable of providing patients with much more information about their doctors.
    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that runs Medicare, is posting on its website detailed information about how many visits and procedures individual health professionals billed the program for in 2012, and how much they were paid.
    This new trove of data, which covers 880,000 health professionals, adds to a growing body of information available to patients who don’t want to leave choosing a doctor to chance. But to put that information to good use, consumers need to be aware of what is available, what’s missing and how to interpret it.

    April 14, 2014

  • HEY HINK: Hateful bullies attempt to muffle free speech

    Hopefully we agree it should be a fundamental right to voice criticism of any religion you wish. And you should have the right to sing the praises of any religion you choose. If criticism of religion is unjust, feel free to make your best argument to prove it. If criticism is just, don’t be afraid to acknowledge and embrace it. If songs of praise are merited, feel free to join in. If not, feel free to ignore them. But no American should participate in curbing free speech just because expression of religious views makes someone uncomfortable.

    April 11, 2014

Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
     View Results