D.C. Council Chairman John A. Wilson's budget plan {Metro, Jan. 18} is a realistic approach to solving some of the deficit problems in our city. Citizens of the District of Columbia should stand behind our newly elected chairman. After all, we who voted wanted a leader who would bring about concrete, productive changes in our city.

How can we expect to see significant changes if we aren't willing to back our leaders when they make hard, realistic decisions that may not necessarily benefit all people but are nevertheless intended for the good of all people. Nearly all D.C. citizens agree that this city cannot afford more empty promises or abstract talk about what should be done about our city's enormous deficit.

Mr. Wilson, unlike some leaders, demonstrates that he is a realist. I agree with him that "everyone is going to have to participate in the suffering." Mr. Wilson's comment may seem harsh to city employees, but let's face reality: either we make sacrifices now or be prepared for even greater sacrifices later. I'd rather give up some money and help save my, and someone else's, job. Citizens must be willing to pull together and make whatever sacrifices are necessary to heal our city and save jobs.

BOBBY A. CLINTON Washington

I must admit I was initially impressed with D.C. Council Chairman John Wilson's willingness to subject himself and his fellow council members to a furlough for one day every two weeks. I also surmised that this action was a precursor to a city-wide furlough and was designed to rationalize that action.

However, when I learned that Mr. Wilson's proposal to furlough the rest of D.C. government employees was harsher than the one he imposed on himself, I was outraged. His proposal for a one-day-a-week, five-month furlough is not only insulting, it is self-defeating.

As it is, most good government workers make less money in their jobs than they could in the private sector but choose to stick around because they have the opportunity to serve the people of this city and feel valued in doing so. My job, like many others in government, is not restricted to 9 to 5. I work the extra hours without pay because I believe in the importance of what I do. Mr. Wilson's implication that I could do my job in four days instead of five-plus is offensive.

If, however, Mr. Wilson is intent on insulting government workers, the least he could do is come up with something that works. Research on the federal level has shown that furloughs can be economically self-defeating. By placing many workers in a lower tax bracket and reducing their buying power, furloughs may actually result in a net reduction in total revenue.

Why not give Mayor Dixon a chance to make personnel cuts and negotiate with Congress for an increased federal payment before resorting to such a Draconian and ineffective measure as a furlough? If these initiatives are not enough, implement a tax increase that distributes the pain more equally.

Morale can only be stretched so far. The result of Mr. Wilson's 20 percent pay cut would be a mass exodus by many of the city's motivated and effective workers to the private sector, while the less-effective workers would have no choice but to hang around to weather the financial blow. CLARE E. MUNDELL Washington