Treasury Games

Dispatch: Federal government, consider this your year-end bonus from Rep. Steve Stivers.

Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, announced last week that he is returning $100,000 from his congressional office budget to the federal treasury. He also returns $700 from each paycheck to pay down the national debt. Finally, he cut his office budget by five percent at the beginning of 2011.

Stivers is not the only lawmaker to cut a check to the government at the end of this year: Politico reported this week that Tea Party Sen. Rand Paul is returning $500,000 to the U.S. Treasury from his own Senate office budget.

Stivers campaigned in part on a platform to reduce government spending. In a statement announcing the returned money, he said Congress must learn to do “more with less.”

Two separate issues here.

Let’s start with a compliment. When you are giving your own money back out of your own check to pay down the national debt, then props need to be given out. It’s easy to give back other people’s money, but when it is your own, then you get credit. Though the way Obama is spending, we’d all need to give back about 95% our paycheck for 2,000 years to make a dent. But it’s better than nothing and it actually affects him.

The second gesture – returning congressional office money to the Treasury – is hollow. Expect to see quite a few of these releases over the next couple weeks from various House offices. The “returned” money just gets spent elsewhere or by the House at a later date, so isn’t really “returned” at all. Plus if you think about it, is anyone going to see that and think “you know, I am a major liberal and supporter of Democrats, but I see this Stivers fellow is returning some money to the Treasury. He has my vote.” No. That is not going to happen. Anyone that sees it and appreicates already is voting for him. Most folks won’t see it at all.

But on the flip side, he could have just wasted it on stuff his office didn’t need, like new fax machines and staff bonuses, so maybe he should get a few points.

So, in a Politifact kind of way, we rate Stivers as 1.5 for 2.  But due to his pretty safe congressional seat, probably doesn’t matter regardless.

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