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Are donations by politicians to reduce the federal debt an empty political gesture or an important symbol?

We’ll side with those who commend members of Congress for returning part of their public salaries in order to reduce the federal government’s gargantuan debt. It’s not like it would take a lot of time or space to thank the two — that’s right, two — members of Congress who during last fall’s fiscal quarter took advantage of House rules allowing them to give back a portion of their paycheck. Together, Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., and Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., donated $2,610.39 that quarter. Last year, according to the Washington Post, Walz and Bachus were the only members who donated a “Gift to the United States for Reduction of Public Debt” in every fiscal quarter. Each time Bachus gave $414.39 and Walz gave $2,196.

Walz has not accepted a salary increase since he was elected to Congress in 2006. Bachus’ gift includes the cost of living raise he would have received in 2009.

For all the bloated rhetoric about government spending and exorbitant public workers’ salaries and benefits only two congressmen consistently return portions of their income to the government. They put their money where their mouth is. 

“That old adage is ‘It’s better to try live a sermon than to give one,” is how Walz explained his donations to the Post. 

Even if their donations aren’t going to move the needle measuring our public indebtedness very much the actions of Walz and Bachus distinguish them as two politicians who do more than just talk about fiscal restraint.