If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not a cut.

Click here to listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on KTBB AM & FM, Friday, July 29, 2011.

On September 16, 2011, five days following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Continental Airlines CEO Gordon Bethune laid off nearly 11,000 employees, about 20 percent of his workforce. Bethune’s action was breathtaking in both its scope and in its swiftness. To one degree or another, most other airlines ended up following Continental’s lead.

Bethune took such a dramatic step because he recognized the dramatic nature of his problem. Airline demand prior to 9/11 had been weak. The country was in a mild recession following the bursting of the dot-com bubble.

Bethune believed that 9/11 would make things much worse. He believed that the aftershock of the attacks would be bad for business generally but bad for the airline business most particularly. He believed that revenues would be sharply impacted and that absent a major reduction in costs, Continental would run out of cash and be unable to continue operating.

So he took immediate and dramatic action. Employees that were on the payroll when they woke up on September 16 were not on the payroll when they went to bed that night. Airplanes that were in use on September 16 were pulled from service and parked on September 17.

It wasn’t pleasant. Immediately cutting one in five workers in a single stroke is extraordinary. It’s painful to the workers who get cut. It’s painful to the workers that remain on the job and are expected to pull up the slack. It’s a huge blow to morale. Cutting such a large percentage of the workforce so suddenly is a sharp stick in the eye. It gets one’s attention.

Yet, difficult as it was, Bethune faced facts and did what he had to do. Business owners and corporate executives – the ones that survive anyway – do this every day.

The U.S. is in much more financial trouble than Continental Airlines was on September 16, 2001. Yet no action on the scale of Gordon Bethune’s response to 9/11 is anywhere close to happening in our government with respect to reducing spending and getting debt under control.

In the current debate over raising the nation’s borrowing limit, not a single proposal; from the Boehner plan to the revised Boehner plan to “Cut, Cap & Balance” to the “Gang of Six” plan to the Reid plan to whatever Obama is thinking that he refuses to write down to even the Ryan plan – not one plan – does anything to seriously address America’s crippling debt.

Let me say it again. There is no credible proposal on the table. Not one.

Animated arguments and fatuous speeches swirl about us, fraught with high vocabulary and ominous tone, speaking of cutting $1.2 trillion or $2 trillion or $4 trillion spread over ten years. Such rhetoric is utterly without meaning when one realizes that the deficit for this year alone exceeds $1.6 trillion.

Each Congress is sovereign unto itself so putting forth a plan that plays out over a decade is nothing but theater. The 112th Congress can do nothing to bind the 116th Congress. So when a member of Congress talks about savings in the “out years,” he’s using a Washington term that, in English, means “never.”

The only way out of the box for America is to make dramatic cuts in the current year. And then to do so again next year. And then again the year after that. And the only way the cuts will be sufficient is if they bring about an enormous amount of pain, an enormous number of federal employee layoffs, an enormous outcry from affected constituencies, an enormous condemnation from lobbying organizations and rent-seekers and public employee unions and the alphabet soup of trade and consumer organizations headquartered in Washington.

Only when the shrieking becomes deafening and only when members of Congress who vote for such cuts require personal protection will it be safe to believe that America’s fiscal crisis is finally being addressed.

Only then.

As of now, we’re nowhere close.

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Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of ATW Media, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The TEAM FM in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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7 Responses

  1. L Miles says:

    This is a serious notice to “conservative” politicians. STOP trying to sell the American people on a “pig in a poke” legislation that doesn’t even START to save us from the monstrous US DEBT abyss. This blog, talk radio, and the true conservative web sites can overcome your double-talk, Washington ruling class, mutual admiration society, and weak-kneed compromise with Marxists (so-called, the best you can do).

    We are wise to your tricks and insist that you fight for Conservative, limited government principles that REVERSE the spending binge of the last decade and don’t give in to barack and his deceptive, unrelenting Socialist propaganda. Learn how to go on the offensive and stop the acting like losers. You won (because of the TEA Party) the 2010 landslide victory in the House of Representatives and across the State Legislatures and Governors. You need a transfusion from the Democrats in Congress that have learned to NEVER give up.

  2. Rick Armstrong says:

    Change is never easy and when you are making changes to save a nation, we should all feel the burn, so to speak. America is faced with tough challenges. We must react as adults and stop the petty B/S over entitlement reform and spending.

    Really, is it important that we subsidize studies on Fruit Flies, waste money on ACORN, the UN, Forgeign Aid, Green Jobs, GM, Chrysler? Where in the Constitution does it say that the Government has to guarantee mortgages, that I must pay for someone’s poor choices over birth control, or subsidize oil, farmers or laziness?

    SSI reform, Medicare Reform, abolishment of Obama Care and stopping the FEDS from running like crazy men to spend our future have to happen. If it means that I have to cut back, then so be it. Share the wealth? share the Pain!


  3. Ken Smith says:

    Politicians are like women when it comes to spending money. If they spend less than they could have then they consider it “Saving” money. The utilization of baseline budgeting should be outlawed. The government should not be allowed accounting practices and gimmicks that the citizenry is not allowed. I must disagree with Mr. Gleiser that there is no credible plan out there. I have just reviewed the Mack “Penny Plan”. It freezes next years spending at current levels, then each following year, spending is reduced by 1%. If the congress wants, they can raise spending in some areas but then they would have to cut more in others as long as the total dollars saved is equal to 1%. If the congress fails to act, then it is a legislative 1% accross the board. If there is a governmental agency out there that cant cut 1% then it needs to go entirely.

  4. katt says:

    WHY can’t we save this year – suggest eliminating all perks, benefits, retirement, medical, etc for congress, potus, federal agency heads, cazrs, elected and appointed federal employees, and a 20% across the board pay cut for these folks as starters. MAKE it mandatory that EVERY welfare recipient speak, read, comprehend, and write ENGLISH – this is AMERICA not mexico, peru, pakistan, or any other FOREIGN country – if you are not here legally, you should not be getting one dime of assistance of any kind – if you did not ACTUALLY work 40 quarters you should not be getting any SS, but if you are disabled, and not just faking it like so many do to get benefits, then PROVE IT with dr statement, etc
    CUT all unnecesary spending (if you cannot decide, let the people decide) de-fund obamacare and all “social” spending programs implemented since 2000 – increase SS for those who are over 65 and who ACTUALLY worked 40 quarters to = min wage UNLESS their income,assets,etc exceed one million dollars – politicians are NOT eligible for this benefit – politicians need to get REAL jobs and abide by the rules the “ordinary” folks (as obama referred to us, not rich like him) must abide by – ie, cannot spend more that we take in – think about what congress has set up for itself and exempted itself from (even their staff do not have to pay back the student loans we “ordinary” folks must re-pay)

  5. C M Solomon says:

    If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck, NOT a horse. The “duck test” implies that a person can identify an unknown subject by observing that subject’s habitual characteristics.

    If a so-called conservative politician appears to be more comfortable with the verbiage of the Washington double-speak language of the Left (that is an institution unto itself) then you should be very suspicious of their claim to be a “conservative” at heart. If they immediately accept the premise of a loaded question from the Leftist media and reply in a defensive manner, then they are probably putting on a “conservative” act to hide their shallow understanding of the Marxist forces that are trying (and succeeding) to destroy the Constitution, our Liberties, and our economy based on the free enterprise, capitalistic system.

    If they claim that they need a conservative House, Senate, and the Presidency to slow down or stop the mounting (automatic) debt increase that will rise to $24 trillion in ten years (more than double the debt since BHO took office), then why call themselves “conservatives”? The fact is that a “conservative” that looks like a liberal, swims like a liberal, and quacks like a liberal, is NOT a CONSERVATIVE at heart, but is a confused politician looking for acceptance with the Washington ruling class, essentially a lemming.

    Any true conservative in Washington should know by now that they must be part of a formidable force to expose and root out the institutionalism of Socialism at every level in our government. They must expect to have very few friends in the Washington ruling class and accept demonization as a badge of courage. They must be warriors for Liberty and be willing to die politically to save this country. The nation is in too much trouble to accept less. The House of Representatives can play hardball and STOP any debt ceiling increase if it wanted to.

    The simple fact is that the debt ceiling “crisis” is a manufactured propaganda trick intended to force more perpetual growth in BIG government. A simple “freeze” in government spending will not cause any default. We need to kill Obamacare, eliminate the welfare and nanny state (both personal and corporate), and return Social Security and Medicare back to the self-funding insurance programs they were intended to be and, stop treating them as part of general revenue. By doing this we can ultimately reduce the national debt to zero as the national economy is unshackled. We can’t afford the false luxuries of the status quo, anymore.

    Is all this unnecessary government spending worth the death spiral of national bankruptcy that is currently underway?

  6. L Miles says:

    There is ONE plan that actually CUTS Federal spending, balances the budget in 8 years, and actually saves $7.5 trillion over 10 years. Representative Connie Mack’s “Penny Plan” (R-Florida) is the only plan on the table that actually reduces Federal spending. It freezes spending at 2011 levels and cuts an additional 1% for each of the next 6 years and then CAPS federal spending at 18% of GDP starting in the 7th year (2018).

    This plan, H.R.1848 (One Percent Spending Reduction Act of 2011) was introduced in May 2011. Only recently has this proposal been getting any publicity. Presently the Mack Penny plan enjoys the support of over 40 co-sponsors in the U.S House; the backing of the Republican Study Committee’s 103 Members; several key U.S. Senators, and is easily understood.

    More details are available at:


    The following video is from Rep. Mack’s web site and is 6.42 minutes in duration. It also explains the current “base line budget” process that is automatically increasing the federal debt without justification each year.


    I hope this proposal will get the attention of the Republican leadership in Congress. It is a great start towards fiscal sanity!

  7. C M Solomon says:

    Quack! Quack! Quack! Today, the conservative cause of limited government and of slowing down the BIG government Socialist forces in Washington was dealt a death blow for the rest of the BHO administration. The media and Republican propaganda to the contrary is a BIG LIE. Boehner and McConnell essentially adopted the Democrat plan to assure BHO the $2.1 trillion in additional deficit spending that he wanted to carry him past the 2012 election year campaign.

    This means that BHO will have added roughly $6 trillion in 4 years to the national debt. The economy will continue flat and the recession will get worse. The BHO Marxist plan to crater the US economy continues unabated without accountability and with the cooperation of the “cover-up” media.

    The promised future spending “cuts” over the next ten years will never happen as Paul has said. Furthermore, the ALLEGED “cuts” are dwarfed by the baseline growth of 7% in deficit spending per year that is part of the Washington budget process and accounting rules. The “cuts” are fakery no matter how you look at them. This hidden growth is what fuels the Socialist agenda.

    The so-called conservative Republican leadership, like loyal Washington ruling class politicians, continues the fraud on the American people. When Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid pretend their temporary disappointment yet enthusiastically support the “compromise bill” in the end, you know that the conservative cause lost the battle. Once the devil in the details is discovered, the TEA Party folks will be livid! The “default” hysteria worked!

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