Thursday, April 07, 2011

A non-response from Sen. Hagan on OCP

Remember how back in February, I asked you to write your Senator about not taking away our overseas comparability pay and thereby forcing only the lower and mid-leveled among us to take a 24% pay cut when we go overseas?

Well I wrote my Senator, NC Senator Kay Hagan. I told her about how I was an my colleagues serving overseas would be taking an immediate pay cut. How they were serving in places like Libya longside folks from other agencies along with the higher ranking of our own service, who did not have to take such a pay cut (any pay cut, in fact).

I asked her to help fight the cut.

Here is the response I got...makes me doubt anyone actually READ my letter. Notice there is not the first mention of the Foreign Service. And it took her two months to come up with this...

Guess who I will not be voting for next time?

April 6, 2011

Dear Friend,

Thank you for contacting me regarding federal spending and the national debt. I share your concerns about the need to encourage fiscal responsibility and use taxpayer dollars wisely. I apologize for my delayed response.

Our nation's debt has been accumulating dangerously over the last decade, primarily as a result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program. On top of that, the severe economic recession that began in 2007 led to lower tax revenues and higher deficit spending as Congress took steps to unfreeze credit markets and revive the economy. All of these factors combined to put us on a fiscally unsustainable path that must be rectified. I understand that our country cannot continue deficit spending far into the future and I am working to enact a number of policies that will help address our nation's deficit and debt.

During the 111th Congress, I voted for an amendment to H.J. Res. 45 to reinstate the budget principle known as "pay-as-you-go," which requires that legislation increasing the deficit be offset by measures that reduce the deficit by an equal amount. It will help ensure that we do not burden future generations with the bill of our policies today. That amendment was agreed to by a vote of 60-39, and I believe it is a good start to controlling deficit spending.

In an effort to strengthen the pay-as-you-go budget principle and reduce the deficit, I have supported numerous bipartisan amendments to establish a five-year cap on discretionary spending. Discretionary spending caps have a proven track record of controlling government spending and reducing the deficit. In the 1990s, both discretionary spending caps and pay-as-you-go policies were in place under bipartisan agreements, and produced four balanced budgets and budget surpluses from 1998-2001. The five-year cap on non-security discretionary spending in President Obama's 2012 budget is a good start, but we must take a comprehensive approach to deficit reduction that includes entitlement spending and tax reform.

In addition, I also supported a proposal offered by Senators Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Judd Gregg (R-NH) to create a bipartisan commission to address our long-term deficits. While that proposal did not receive the 60 votes required to pass, I was encouraged when President Obama announced plans for a similar commission co-chaired by former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, of North Carolina, and former Senate Republican leader Alan Simpson.

I was among the group of senators who advocated for the creation of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which President Obama created on February 18, 2010. The 18-member Commission was tasked with producing recommendations for reducing the deficit, and its leaders showed tremendous leadership throughout the process. On December 1, 2010, the Commission published its final report, which you can read here:

The Commission produced a set of bipartisan recommendations to help us get the national debt under control. Although a majority of commissioners supported the final report, it did not receive enough support to trigger automatic consideration in Congress. I do not agree with everything in the report, but I believe that the commissioners showed tremendous courage by addressing a wide range of issues, from tax policy to health care costs. Most importantly, their work will help keep the process of addressing our fiscal outlook moving forward. On December 3, 2010, I was one of 14 senators who sent a letter to the White House and the bipartisan congressional leadership, urging them to address our pressing fiscal challenges by considering the Commission's report.

As Congress considers deficit-reduction measures and budget proposals for fiscal years 2011 and 2012, I will certainly keep your thoughts about federal spending in mind. I look forward to working with my colleagues in a bipartisan fashion to put our fiscal house back in order.

Again, thank you for contacting my office. It is truly an honor to represent North Carolina in the United States Senate, and I hope you will not hesitate to contact me in the future should you have any further questions or concerns.


Kay R. Hagan


Anonymous said...

Ha! I totally got the same answer. Shameful

Val's Adventures said...

I guess they don't have an OCP form letter.

H.H. said...

I got a "non-response" from my Senator, too. Some generic "didn't even bother to read your letter" response. Blah, I have such little faith in our elected officials that they care about anyone but their own bloated egos.

Carla @ I Run, You Run said...

Wow, definitely never even bother reading your letter. If you're going to send a form letter, might as well at least TRY to send a relevant one. This is the one I got back from Sen. Jim Webb (which is definitely relevant):

Thank you for contacting my office regarding the H.R. 1, the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011. I appreciate your taking the time to share your concerns about the overseas comparability pay adjustment for Foreign Service officers stationed abroad.

I voted against H.R. 1, which was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 44-56 on March, 9, 2011. H.R. 1 contained cuts that targeted our nation's most vulnerable populations, failed to acknowledge the changes necessary in non-discretionary spending, and put at risk recent economic gains. I look forward to working with my colleagues to craft a responsible funding bill that will keep our government functioning and actually address the systemic fiscal challenges facing our country.

I appreciate hearing from my constituents. Your correspondence helps me serve you better in the Senate. I hope that you will continue to share your views with me and my staff in the years ahead.

I would also invite you to visit my website at for regular updates about my activities and positions on matters that are important to Virginia and our nation.

jc said...

Here is the response that I received from Senator Bill Nelson (Florida):

"Thank you for contacting me regarding recent proposals in the House of Representatives that would cut "comparability pay" in the Foreign Service from the upcoming budget. I share your opinion that Foreign Service Officers play a crucial role in the world by promoting U.S. national interests and diplomacy abroad.

Many Foreign Service employees serve in assignments overseas that are increasingly challenging or often dangerous. There has been strong bipartisan recognition that we must continue to invest in diplomacy and development. Unfairly penalizing Foreign Service employees is not the way to balance our budget. As Chairman of a new Finance Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility, I am working with my colleagues on a comprehensive plan that makes real and responsible changes aimed at reducing the deficit. Our commitment to those who serve our nation overseas should never be in doubt.

I will keep your views in mind as the Senate considers legislation regarding Foreign Service employees. I appreciate your correspondence. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future."

(On the other hand, neither Senator Rubio nor my Representative bothered to respond.)

Destinaish Unknown said...

Digger for Congress!! You heard it here first.

Ironically, the Word Verification thingy below is "reake", just like the letter you got.

Jersey Beth said...

Aweful lot of "I" in that letter... guess we all know where her priorities lie.

Digger said...

Wow JC! I want YOUR senator!

DiploDad said...

I used to work on Capitol Hill and sent these kinds of form letters on occasion. In this case, the 20-something staffer is neglecting his or her duties to at least address the issue. If it makes you feel any better, call the office and ask to speak with the LD.