Cutting government is much easier said than done

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No doubt many of our readers wouldn’t care if there were no mail delivery, but the vast majority of Americans would suffer greatly. So who do we blame for the current postal mess? It’s no surprise that Congress has created it. Members of Congress are the first people to scream when a local post office is about to close. But last year Congress forced the postal service to default on a multibillion-dollar pension fund payment by denying the funding.

The postmaster general said last year that there was a need to close 252 of the 487 mail-processing services and reduce overnight delivery of first class mail. Within seconds of the announcement, it seemed, a handful of Tea Party-supported congressmen started screaming in protest. These are the same people who are always complaining that government has to be downsized and run like a private business.

In addition to mail delivery, there are quite a few other services we take for granted. Millions of people rely on Amtrak for train service throughout the Northeast. Not everyone can afford to take an airplane to Washington or Boston, and those discount bus companies aren’t always the safest. Take a ride on an Amtrak train and you will see every class of citizen sitting in the same car.

There’s no doubt that government is too big and needs to be selectively downsized. But where do we start? Social Security checks for widows? Aid for college students from poor families? Payments to returning soldiers for career retraining?

Mitt Romney was totally wrong when he talked about the “47 percent.” The number is a lot bigger than that, and it covers all of us, including me, who respect what government does and can do.

Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column?

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