Congressional pay cuts.
That’s what Ellabell resident Greg Purcell is asking for in a petition he created using the new “We the people” program through www.whitehouse.gov.
“I, like everyone else, am just completely frustrated with the entire government,” Purcell said. “I don’t care whether you have an R or a D after your name, to watch these people stand up and say ‘we’ve got to cut this and that and shut down the government,’ it just occurred to me we don’t have any leadership anymore.”
Purcell said this led him to create the petition, and that if his congressman, 1st District Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., would choose to take a pay cut, it would show leadership.
Purcell used Delaware Gov. Jack Markell as an example.
“Jack Markell said he was going to have to cut state workers’ pay by 8 percent (in 2009),” Purcell said. “But then he said ‘I’m cutting my own pay 20 percent’ and to me that’s leadership.”
While researching the idea of congressional pay cuts, Purcell said he found an article on thehill.com that said when Gov. Nathan Deal was a congressman, he supported an idea of congressional pay cuts when the government is in a deficit. Purcell noted that he is unsure if Deal still holds that opinion since being elected governor.
He also cited former U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., as a politician who sought congressional pay cuts.
The petition, which was created Saturday, already had 143 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon. And after reaching 150 signatures, the petition will become searchable through engines like Google, Purcell said.
And so far, the response had been overwhelmingly bi-partisan, he said, and he hopes it will generate enough interest to one day become a national referendum.
The petition, which Purcell wrote, starts out: “Cut Congressional and staff pay and benefits before asking average Americans to take massive cuts in services.” He suggests an immediate 30 percent pay cut for congressmen and their staffs and also proposes all future congressional pay raises should be determined by a constituent referendum.
Purcell said he has not attempted to contact Kingston because he doesn’t feel it is a local problem. He also said he feels it would be a waste of time.
“The problem is not specifically a local problem, it’s more of a national problem and Kingston is part of that problem,” Purcell said. “It’s gotten to the point where both parties are more interested in what’s in the best interest of the party and not the people.”
Kingston was unable to be reached by presstime.
Petitions created have 30 days to reach 5,000 signatures. If that goal is met, the petition must be addressed in the White House, Purcell said. Purcell’s petition has until Oct. 24 to reach that mark.
“After 5,000 votes, the president will have to address the situation,” he said. “It doesn’t mean they’ll do anything, but at least it’ll put it on the president’s desk.”
Purcell said this petition program allows the average person to have a voice in government.
“For the average guy who goes to work every day who feels like he can’t do anything, he can take two minutes and sign this and be a part of a group,” Purcell said.
To view the petition, visit wwws.whitehouse.gov/petition and search “cut congressional and staff pay and benefits asking average americans take massive cuts services.”