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A recent ad campaign for a tire company alleges its rubber will "last longer than a politician's promise." It seems an appropriate suggestion in light of the many promises made by the current crop of campaigners, both local and national.

But one of the more ironic statements to come out of the current presidential campaign is President Bush's recent pledge that if he is re-elected he will cut the White House operating budget by one-third - providing that Congress agrees to do the same thing.The last line is the key.

Considering the increasingly bloated staffs and inflated staff salaries of members of Congress, this just might be one of those absolutely safe promises no one will ever expect the president to keep.

That's too bad, because it is one that both branches ought to take seriously.

In fact, the issue cuts to the core of the problems of the federal government. According to recently but reluctantly released payroll records, at least 34 members of Bush's personal staff are paid more than $100,000 a year. In a year when the sagging national economy is the principal issue, this information is sobering.

It was contained in White House documents made public by the House Subcommittee on Human Resources, which approved legislation this year to force full public disclosure of White House operating costs.

The current White House budget, excluding travel, stands at about $189 million. For most members of our society who are forced to make ends meet on a tiny fraction of that figure but who work just as hard as the president's staff, such information is likely to produce frustration and anger.

Even in the middle of a campaign, it would be a noble and daring gesture if the resident were to make his promised cuts immediately. It might cause Congress to feel guilty and do the same. Who knows? It might even help the economy.