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Sharpen your pitchforks...

Published:

Last Edited: December 19, 2008, 11:40 pm

...and light the torches. 

From The Hill:

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 whohave lost their jobs this year, and congressional demands of CEOs to work forfree did not convince lawmakers to freeze their own pay.

Instead, they will get a $4,700 pay increase, amountingto an additional $2.5 million that taxpayers will spend on congressionalsalaries, and watchdog groups are not happy about it.


“As lawmakers make a big show of forcing auto executivesto accept just $1 a year in salary, they are quietly raiding the vault fortheir own personal gain,” said Daniel O’Connell, chairman of The SeniorCitizens League (TSCL), a non-partisan group. “This money would be much better spenthelping the millions of seniors who are living below the poverty line andstruggling to keep their heat on this winter.”

However, at 2.8 percent, the automatic raise thatlawmakers receive is only half as large as the 2009 cost of living adjustmentof Social Security recipients.

Still, Steve Ellis, vice president of the budget watchdogTaxpayers for Common Sense, said Congress should have taken the rare step offreezing its pay, as lawmakers did in 2000.

“Look at the way the economy is and how most peoplearen’t counting on a holiday bonus or a pay raise — they’re just happy to havegainful employment,” said Ellis. “But you have the lawmakers who are set up andready to get their next installment of a pay raise and go happily along theirway.”

Member raises are often characterized as examples ofwasteful 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 automaticpay adjustments from kicking in for members next year. But the bill, whichattracted 34 cosponsors, failed to make it out of committee.

“They don’t even go through the front door. They have itset up so that it’s wired so that you actually have to undo the pay raiserather than vote for a pay raise,” Ellis said.

Freezing congressional salaries is hardly a new idea onCapitol Hill. 

Lawmakers have floated similar proposals in every yeardating back to 1995, and long before that. Though the concept of forgoing araise has attracted some support from more senior members, it is most popularwith freshman lawmakers, who are often most vulnerable.

In 2006, after the Republican-led Senate rejected anincrease to the minimum wage, Democrats, who had just come to power in theHouse with a slew of freshmen, vowed to block their own pay raise until thewage increase was passed. The minimum wage was eventually increased andlawmakers received their automatic pay hike.

In the beginning days of 1789, Congress was paid only $6a day, which would be about $75 daily by modern standards. But by 1965 memberswere 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 Senatemake $188,100.

Ellis said that while freezing the pay increase would bea step in the right direction, it would be better to have it set up so thatmembers would have to take action, and vote, for a pay raise and deal with theconsequences, rather than get one automatically.

“It is probably never going to be politically popular toraise Congress’s salary,” he said. “I don’t think you’re going to findtaxpayers saying, ‘Yeah I think I should pay my congressman more’.”

 http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/with-economy-in-shambles-congress-gets-a-raise-2008-12-17.html

Entry #176

Comments

1.
justxploringComment by justxploring - December 20, 2008, 12:25 am
Hillary won't be getting one this year!   :-)   

Rick, I really agree with you. However, I really don't think they are overpaid.   A successful lawyer in private practice makes a heck of a lot more. OTOH the average retiree on social security will only get a $63 a year increase and about 12% live below the poverty line.

Since the members of Congress are public servants, I think they should freeze the pay increase until the people who voted for them get back to work.   It's just inappropriate at a time when unemployment is so high.
2.
Comment by jim695 - December 20, 2008, 7:22 am
I guess I just don't see how they justify it. If they had real jobs, they wouldn't have the ability to help themselves to more money. They'd be like the rest of us, who have to make it on what we earn, and that's the way things should be. Their comparitively huge salaries and seemingly unlimited benefits only serve to keep them far out of touch with mainstream America.

     I think they truly believe that all of us make a minimum of $169,000 a year. They have no concept of what it's like to work for minimum wage, or what it's like to actually earn or deserve a raise in salary. Once again, I'll ask why any of our elected officials should make any more money than a police officer, a teacher or a front-line soldier? Freeze their pay? Why not insist on an across-the-board salary REDUCTION for ALL elected officials?

     I am sick and tired of the elitist attitude exhibited by these lawyers who disguise themselves as our congressmen and senators; they're still lawyers, and I don't think anyone will disagree that lawyers make very poor public servants. Even the electoral process itself has become so commercialized that the common man can no longer afford to run for public office. We've been conditioned to equate wealth with intelligence and leadership ability, but where this idea originated is anyone's guess; the evidence, at least as it applies to our government, would indicate the inverse.

     To sum up, I don't believe our public servants should have the power, the authority or the ability to reach into taxpayers' pockets and raise their own salaries without the express approval of those they serve. ANY congressional raises, even COL increases, should require taxpayer approval via a referendum vote. That won't happen, of course, because they KNOW we'll vote them down, and they won't stand for simple commoners telling them how much money their jobs are worth.

     Jim
3.
Rick GComment by Rick G - December 20, 2008, 11:26 am
Since they are accomplices in destroying our economy, I would think a pay raise to be simply out of the question. They will probably be smart enough to turn it down rather than face the wrath of an increasingly enraged American public.
4.
jarasanComment by jarasan - December 20, 2008, 4:50 pm
A lawyer pay for for play player just got elected to the presidency...............you're going to need more than pitchforks. This is an entrenched bureaucracy that needs to be napalmed along with the media propaganda machine.
5.
konaneComment by konane - December 20, 2008, 5:00 pm
"Since they are accomplices in destroying our economy ..."

No truer words spoken Rick!!!! Ruling elitist only care about making themselves fatter on our backs.

Time for Fair Tax ...... to stop highway robbery and behind closed doors allocation of taxpayer money.
6.
justxploringComment by justxploring - December 21, 2008, 2:21 pm
Rick, although off-topic, I thought you'd enjoy this story since I mentioned this same pay raise. (keep reading)   My Dad passed away last year and my sister filed his taxes for him and marked the return "deceased." A letter was received stating his return was late and subject to penalties. I remember saying to her "Well, we need to make sure the needy members of Congress get their raises."

Well, guess what? I got a little gift in the mail just a few days ago. My Chanukkah present from the IRS - lol. My sister received a small check and split it 3 ways, which was very nice of her. The IRS finally agreed that death is an acceptable excuse for late filing.

This reminds me of when my grandmother was around 103 and was on a waiting list to get into an assisted living facility. My Dad didn't want her dying in a nursing home and she needed 24/7 care. Medicare told my Dad that she was in reasonable health for her age. (isn't just being alive at that age "reasonable health?")
7.
time*treatComment by time*treat - December 22, 2008, 11:43 am
Your pitchforks and torches will be all you have left after they get through banning firearms.

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