Leadership starts at the top

Thoughts from Behind the Pressline

I’m not a CPA, accountant or lawyer. I have no degree in political science or economics. I’m a high school grad with a couple years of college. I have no insider information on the inner workings of the federal government, but I’ve been challenged by several readers to be more specific in my column regarding sequestration and offer possible suggestions on how we go about easing the pain of reducing Uncle Sam’s spending by $85 billion.

We all know there isn’t one single dollar the government spends that someone doesn’t think is critically important. But to set the stage for what we are up against, I urge you go watch this simple dramatization of our nation’s current $16 trillion+ debt at demonocracy.info. We must reduce our spending.

Let me start by stating the obvious. I don’t know of one executive administrator who is responsible for managing anything who doesn’t want to control the checkbook and have some say in income generation. I can only come to one conclusion as to why the president isn’t coming forth with a plan. He wants nothing to do with leading the nation. His goal seems to be cuts must hurt, so make the cuts felt and then blame others for the pain. He also seems reluctant to put forth his own cost-saving solutions therefore avoiding any personal blame. This is the exact opposite of what a president should do. Harry Truman said it best: “The buck stops here.”

With the limited information available to me, here are my recommendations if I were in the Oval Office. As a sign of good faith and leadership, we start at the White House. The best estimates I can find tell me it costs about $1.7 billion to run the White House. I’d immediately direct the WH staff, including the presidency, to trim 10 percent from all salaries associated with WH personnel, curtail all extraneous travel, including Air Force One and cut our operational spending by the same amount. I urge Congress to do the same 10 percent cut, and together we can lead the nation to a $1 billion savings. Leadership starts with the leaders.

Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at dan@newmarketpressvt.com or dan@denpubs.com.

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