Taxpayers of America, you may soon be funding a $500 billion bailout of the 50 states, all U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “HEROES Act” vividly illustrates why transparency is crucial. If the Senate passes the legislation, taxpaying citizens of financially responsible states will bear the burden of financially irresponsible states.
California stands out among the bad actors. In the so-called Golden State, 341,000 state and local government employees earn more than $100,000 in paychecks and pension payments. If the cost of living in California necessitates such salaries, the state should tackle local government policies designed to keep housing prices high. Or begin taming the public employee unions, whose bargaining helped 44 lifeguards in Los Angeles County earn between $300,000 and $365,000. Not to mention the $501,000 per year nurse working for the university medical system.
In San Francisco alone, 9,425 employees earn total compensation exceeding $200,000 annually. The city disclosed that a sheriff in corrections made $315,000 last year in overtime. In San Francisco, taxpayers cough up over $452,421 annually to pay a salary ($343,000) and benefits ($109,447) to Mayor London Breed. This is the highest in the country.
Members of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors are also generous to themselves, but these public servants didn’t earn their steady raises by running a tight ship. According to the state controller’s government compensation website, over a five-year period from 2013 to 2018, the amount that San Francisco paid out in total wages jumped 27.6%, from $2.9 billion for 35,771 employees to $3.7 billion in total wages to 40,951 employees in 2018.
Among the new hires: The members of “poop patrol,” who are paid $184,000 a year to clean up human waste left by the city’s burgeoning homeless population. (Feel free to add your own wisecrack here.)
However, it’s no laughing matter, and it’s not strictly a local problem: Pelosi, who came of age in San Francisco politics, and Gov. Gavin Newsom, who was born and raised there, aren’t looking to local politicians to tighten their belts or enact smarter policies. Both are looking for Washington to simply bail out the city, along with the rest of the state. California would reap $48 billion from the Pelosi Bailout Bill — nearly a dollar-for-dollar bailout of its highly compensated employees.
And that’s just California. Remember, Pelosi’s monster bill weighs in at half a trillion dollars. Meanwhile, the federal debt continues to explode. It has quadrupled in the last 20 years. Today, has surpassed $23 trillion and is rising rapidly. The deficit this year is unknown. It will be somewhere around $4 trillion, the equivalent of a wartime deficit. The entire federal debt in 1992 — after 216 years, two world wars, depressions, countless natural disasters — was $4 trillion.
The Pelosi state bailout bill clearly screams, “So what? It’s not my money.” By the time our country’s debt becomes so corrosive to your livelihood, to your life, that it can’t be ignored — as it will — Pelosi and the big spenders in both major political parties will be long out of office.
Some “Heroes Act.” Heroes to whom? Certainly not you, the taxpayers.
At OpenTheBooks we believe that every cent of your tax dollars spent by your elected officials should be online, viewable in real-time. We believe transparency will be revolutionary. The more you, the voters, know about your elected officials’ respect (or lack thereof) for your tax dollars, the more responsible your elected officials will be, and the better our government will be.
Thomas W. Smith is the Chairman of OpenTheBooks.com.
Adam Andrzejewski is the CEO & founder of the organization.