The last part of the 30-second video begins with then-congressional candidate and now-Rep.-elect Scott Peters strolling along the beach with his words, “….I say no budget, no pay. If Congress doesn’t do their job and balance the budget,” with a shrug indicating how simple the solution is, “they don’t get a paycheck.”
To confirm that this was not an isolated ad, but a concerted strategy, in a local TV news interview Peters dispelled any ambiguity about his proposal. He ignored its political impossibility and, since the interviewer was shaky about government finance and took him seriously, he affirmed his position with, “Look, if you can’t balance the budget every year, which is your job, then you shouldn’t get a paycheck.”
Brilliant, in that without any mention of his party affiliation he managed to identify not only with a Republican value, but that of the most extreme Tea Party wing, combining both contempt for politicians and the goal of drastically shrinking government. With this he obviously hoped to bond with the voters who have disdain for all elected officials, implying that their salary, their main incentive, should be withheld for lack of performance. I’m sure this tested well by Peters’ media advisors, being carefully crafted to be taken by the viewers as differentiating him from those grubby legislators, especially the one he wanted to unseat (Brian Bilbray), who just builds up his pension while not taking the difficult stands that could ameliorate the nation’s structural problems.