With economy in shambles, Congress gets a raise
By Jordy Yager
Posted: 12/17/08 05:41 PM [ET]
A crumbling economy, more than 2 million constituents who have lost their jobs this year, and congressional demands of CEOs to work for free did not convince lawmakers to freeze their own pay.
Instead, they will get a $4,700 pay increase, amounting to an additional $2.5 million that taxpayers will spend on congressional salaries, and watchdog groups are not happy about it.
“As lawmakers make a big show of forcing auto executives to accept just $1 a year in salary, they are quietly raiding the vault for their own personal gain,” said Daniel O’Connell, chairman of The Senior Citizens League (TSCL), a non-partisan group. “This money would be much better spent helping the millions of seniors who are living below the poverty line and struggling to keep their heat on this winter.”
However, at 2.8 percent, the automatic raise that lawmakers receive is only half as large as the 2009 cost of living adjustment of Social Security recipients.
Still, Steve Ellis, vice president of the budget watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense, said Congress should have taken the rare step of freezing its pay, as lawmakers did in 2000.
“Look at the way the economy is and how most people aren’t counting on a holiday bonus or a pay raise — they’re just happy to have gainful employment,” said Ellis. “But you have the lawmakers who are set up and ready to get their next installment of a pay raise and go happily along their way.”
Member raises are often characterized as examples of wasteful spending, especially when many constituents and businesses in members’ districts are in financial despair.
Rep. Harry Mitchell, a first-term Democrat from Arizona, sponsored legislation earlier this year that would have prevented the automatic pay adjustments from kicking in for members next year. But the bill, which attracted 34 cosponsors, failed to make it out of committee.
“They don’t even go through the front door. They have it set up so that it’s wired so that you actually have to undo the pay raise rather than vote for a pay raise,” Ellis said.
Freezing congressional salaries is hardly a new idea on Capitol Hill.
Lawmakers have floated similar proposals in every year dating back to 1995, and long before that. Though the concept of forgoing a raise has attracted some support from more senior members, it is most popular with freshman lawmakers, who are often most vulnerable.
In 2006, after the Republican-led Senate rejected an increase to the minimum wage, Democrats, who had just come to power in the House with a slew of freshmen, vowed to block their own pay raise until the wage increase was passed. The minimum wage was eventually increased and lawmakers received their automatic pay hike.
In the beginning days of 1789, Congress was paid only $6 a day, which would be about $75 daily by modern standards. But by 1965 members were receiving $30,000 a year, which is the modern equivalent of about $195,000.
Currently the average lawmaker makes $169,300 a year, with leadership making slightly more. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) makes $217,400, while the minority and majority leaders in the House and Senate make $188,100.
Ellis said that while freezing the pay increase would be a step in the right direction, it would be better to have it set up so that members would have to take action, and vote, for a pay raise and deal with the consequences, rather than get one automatically.
“It is probably never going to be politically popular to raise Congress’s salary,” he said. “I don’t think you’re going to find taxpayers saying, ‘Yeah I think I should pay my congressman more’.”
besides if congress doesn't get money legitimately they will get it illegitimately.[/QUOTE]
don't worry, they will always get their illegitimate money regardless of what their "official" salary is
Increase all of their pay to NFL player salaries and expect that if anyone in their family or friends profiteered, they violated the agreement and they go to jail FOREVER with nothing along with their families and assets taken away and sold at public auction to their constituents.
Simply an everyman type thought:
When you have a job in politics, the thought should be to rise to Socrates, not sink to the level of Pacman Jones.:rolleyes:
Let's bring back the old american laws for this New Generation. :yes:
Maybe, hmm, we as a country, should consider this past 8 years treason and call on Kenneth Starr for a real investigation and yeah, right.:rolleyes: ..... :rolleyes:
I agree to that as long as Wall Street follows right behind.
[QUOTE=BrooklynBound;2921811]I'd gladly increase Congressional pay 10% per year if they were subjected to IRS audits every year. They have too much power to assume nothing shady is going on behind the scenes.[/QUOTE]
"Economy in shambles?" Baloney! That's what the leftist loons want us to believe so they can push for more economic changes that let gov. control us more and more.
[QUOTE] We are not talking about the Great Depression, when output dropped by one-third and unemployment soared to 25 percent.
What we are talking about is a golden political opportunity for politicians to use the current financial crisis to fundamentally change an economy that has been successful for more than two centuries, so that politicians can henceforth micro-manage all sorts of businesses and play Robin Hood, taking from those who are not likely to vote for them and transferring part of their earnings to those who will vote for them.
For that, the politicians need lots of hype, and that is being generously supplied by the media. [/QUOTE]