“No budget, no pay” is one provision of the House bill that temporarily suspends the national debt ceiling and that is going in front of the Senate. In short, if the House and the Senate do not approve a budget by mid-April, their pay gets held temporarily until the bill is passed. I have to say that I really like this. The measure has the egalitarian appeal of forcing our representatives to live as the rest of us do, particularly since the effects of not passing a budget are directly causing working class Americans to go without their pay. The U.S. Navy just issued a statement saying that they are going to be starting layoffs now in anticipation of both sequestration and uncertainty over a budget that may not be passed. Although it’s possible that even if a budget is passed jobs will still need to be cut to deal with decreased funding, the armed services are just shooting in the dark right now, guessing at who to lay off in order to sustain core military operations with no real knowledge of what the final budget numbers will require in terms of workers. Neither the military commands or defense contractors can plan appropriately to minimize the impact on personnel and prepare personnel for transition to other work without actionable information.
Predictably, those who are being asked to tie their pay to performance are balking. The House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stated that this was a “gimmick unworthy of the fiscal challenges we face.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered that “the House Republicans had to add a gimmick or two to the bill.” I didn’t hear politicians using the “g-word” to describe tying executive pay to performance when the government bailed out the auto or banking industries, so the complaints that tying a politician’s pay to their ability to execute basic functions of their job ring just a little hollowly.
Entrepreneurs by definition work on a pay for performance basis. If your company succeeds, you get paid. If it doesn’t, you lose potentially your house and life savings. We’re not asking our elected officials to be entrepreneurs and put their houses on the line as collateral if they fail to perform the most basic function of their jobs, we’re just asking them to do what they’re paid for, or not get paid until they do. It’s hard to imagine a more fair deal being offered to any working class person, or that the plumber fixing your sink or your top employee who were offered that deal would respond by retorting to you that you’re offering them a “gimmick.”. The last time I checked this was the core of capitalism and the Protestant work ethic that this country was founded upon.