An online petition seeking to hold the President and Congress accountable by withholding their paychecks and healthcare benefits until the “Fiscal Cliff” is avoided, and an agreement solving the agonizing crisis is reached, was created on the White House website on December 3, 2012.
The section of the White House website called “We the People” allows user-generated petitions from members of the American public to suggest specific policies and proposals to President Obama’s administration. If a particular petition receives 25,000 online signatures, then the proposal will receive a review from the White House and an official response from President Obama.
The petition to withhold the pay and benefits of members of Congress and the President is conditioned on a requirement that they reach an accord on the so-called “Fiscal Cliff”, which is a punishing combination of much higher tax rates across all income levels, new taxes on 26 million Americans in the form of the Alternative Minimum Tax, the expiration of the payroll tax, dramatic increase in the “death tax” on estates, and deep cuts in defense and Medicare. The crisis must be resolved by President Barack Obama and the Congress by January 1 to avoid the fiscal cliff, which will total $100 billion of spending cuts and $400 billion in tax hikes in 2013.
The petition specifically suggests withholding the paychecks and medical benefits – as well as permanently reducing the pay – of all members of Congress and President Obama until the fiscal cliff is solved, stating:
“Congress and the President must forfeit their pay and healthcare benefits until the fiscal cliff is resolved. And they must pass a solution, not a stop-gap. And, if they miss the Jan 1 deadline, all of Congress and the President must take a permanent 15% pay cut. Their pay cannot be raised for two years. ‘The American People’ that both sides constantly regale live in this sort of world (do your job or don’t get paid). If it is good enough for us, it’s good enough for them.”
In order to receive a review and official response from President Obama, the petition must receive 25,000 online signatures within 30-days, which is January 2, 2013. Ironically, that is the same day the tax hikes and spending cuts in the fiscal cliff would be due to go into effect, following the New Year’s holiday.
The White House petition website, known as “We the People”, cites its purpose as giving citizens a voice in government. It’s official mission statement on the website’s homepage from President Obama states:
“My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and efffectiveness in government.”
Perhaps telling of President Barack Obama’s administration, the website contains a spelling mistake, writing “efffectiveness”, instead of “effectiveness”, in the official quote.
President Barack Obama and the Congress have only four weeks to reach an agreement on the fiscal cliff. The final week of the year is traditionally a period of time when Congress is in recess, and President Obama goes on vacation to Hawaii to enjoy the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Steven Holmes is the Los Angeles Political Buzz Examiner.
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