Time to cut their pay. In half. And then in half again.

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The average income in America is 50 thousand dollars. We pay members of Congress 175 thousand dollars. Plus a lifetime pension. Plus cushy health benefits. Plus free travel, food and lodging courtesy of the tax payer. All of this, for a part time job. All of this, and they still have the gumption to raise taxes while they lecture about the need to “make sacrifices”. When a politician talks to you about “sacrifice” ask him if he can remember the last time he paid for his own meal or worked a full time job. When he responds by stuttering and stammering and muttering that we “need to get back to the issues” you should then calmly remove your shoe and throw it at his face. You know, like they do in the Middle East. I don’t agree with most of their methods over there but I do love the shoe throwing move.

The point is, these ghouls have approval ratings that look like an Antarctic temperature forecast yet, somehow, the fact that they help themselves to a salary that more than triples the national average rarely even comes up. Of all the irrelevant nonsense we talk about in this country, why don’t we have a serious conversation about this? Yes, cutting their pay won’t solve our financial problems. But neither will raising taxes. So why do we talk only about the latter and rarely the former? Why don’t we publicly nail these schmucks against the wall any chance we get and demand they justify their lavish tax funded compensation?

In North Korea, their Dear Leader eats ostrich egg omelets for breakfast while his people starve. In America, many of us work multiple jobs to feed our families while our elected representatives take two thirds of the year off and live in lifelong luxury. The two situations aren’t equal — ours is worse. At least in North Korea everyone is pretty much aware of the dynamic. He’s the dictator, he’s the old dictator’s son, he assumes titles like “Supreme Commander”, his dad is referred to as the “Eternal President”. It’s a dictatorship, that’s how dictatorships work. It sucks but everyone knows the score. In this country we are too delusional to understand how badly we’re being screwed. Our own supreme commanders call themselves “public servants”. Servants. They steal our money and live like Egyptian pharaohs and still get to call themselves servants. It’s an insult to our intelligence. But most of us go along with the charade.

I say we take this thing back to the early 1800’s. Back in those days congressmen made 6 bucks a day. Adjusted for inflation that’s still less than 40 thousand a year. But I’ll be generous. I say we pay them the full 40 grand a year. No pension, no freebies, no expensive hotel suites, no tax funded private jets. Fly commercial like the rest of us. Eat at Denny’s like the rest of us. Stay at a Comfort Inn like the rest of us. Work two jobs like the rest of us.

I understand that half of the people in congress were already filthy rich before they entered. But the other half wasn’t. That half will feel the pay cut, and I want them to feel it. Even the wealthy members who don’t “need it” still desperately want the high salary and lavish benefits. Why else would they vote for pay increases every year? If they don’t care about the money why wouldn’t they voluntarily sacrifice their income and pension as a political stunt? But they don’t. Instead they pathetically cling to this money they don’t need and shouldn’t be receiving.

Let’s run with this plan. I say we bring it up at every press conference and debate and town hall. I say we force any future candidates for any national office to endorse this plan in writing. This is a “We the People” issue. There’s no reason why we can’t all get behind it. If nothing else it will be fun to watch the politicians squirm and try to maintain composure as they panic internally: “Wait you want me to live like…like… a NORMAL PERSON?! OH THE HORROR! THE DEVASTATION! NO! NO! NO! I CAN’T BE LIKE YOU! I’M BETTER THAN YOU! WHY CAN’T YOU SEE THAT?!” I bet if we hammer this enough we can get one of them to actually say that out loud.

My money is on Pelosi.

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2 Responses to Time to cut their pay. In half. And then in half again.

  1. vermonster says:

    Actually, there is considerable evidence this would make the problem worse (see L. Lessig’s “Republic Lost.”)

    Yes, they’re doing a horrible job, and yes they’re achieving next to nothing. BUT, a large part of that is because of the pervasive, heady influence of special interest funding. No congressman or congresswoman would vote to remove lobbyists from the system, because they can get so many perks out of it.

    Yes, $175,000 a year is a lot of money. a LOT. But, consider what these men and women would be doing otherwise; Public speakers, malpractice attorneys, corporate lawyers, investment bankers, radio and TV hosts all make upwards of $400,000-500,000 a year. Comensurate to their experience and skill sets, they could easily make triple their congressional salary doing other things. Remember also that they must hold two residencies (one in their home state, one in DC), and travel frequently if they’d like to see their families. $175,000 goes precipitously fast when you’re constantly traveling and owning two homes, likely both in expensive cities. Is that a plushier lifestyle than 95% of Americans? Yes, by far. Could congresspeople have way plushier lives if they weren’t serving in congress? Also, yes, easily, and also by far.

    SO, congresspeople leverage their incomes with PAC contributions from lobbyists. Banks got “too big to fail” because all the members of the senate banking committee were on I-Bank payrolls. Our tax code is 2,0000 pages long because companies spend millions on congressional campaigns to keep adding special provisions that save them more millions (never mind considerable lobbying from HR Block and Quicken to keep the tax code artificially complicated; Reagan’s “flat tax you could fill out on a postcard” would sink their businesses overnight).

    A bill to end this kind of lobbying and spending by corporations would never pass: would YOU turn down a gravy train like that? BUT, what if a bill put a cap on election spending and ended all private donations to congressional campaigns – all the while with a provision to raise congressional salaries to, say, $500,000 a year? Then things get interesting. The up front cost is about 12 million dollars (225,000X535 congressmen=$12 mil), but that would be recouped in a few days with elimination of tax loopholes, perverse copyright incentives to pharmaceuticals, or artificial advantages leveraged to large banks – all of which would no longer have any reason not to happen.

  2. Anonymous Concerned Teen says:

    Although I agree with almost everything you say, I have to raise an objection to this post.
    Since this is from January, you may not even notice this comment, but if you do, I want to say that not all congressmen are evil, and that being one is hard.
    My dad works for a congressman, so I experience the stress of politics every night when he comes home from work. This republican congressman is away from his wife and four kids a lot of the time. He’s always busy, and I hear a lot of the stories of nasty people who call all the time. Congressmen do make a good amount (still less than those other people the other commenter listed) but they pay a disproportional amount of taxes on that.
    Most of the “facts” about the benefits received by Congress are not true, also; if I had a nickel for every time my dad looked over my mom’s shoulder and started a rant about the chain email sent by a misinformed fellow Republican, I’d be richer than any of them.
    I understand your want for the people who serve us to be in touch with us, and I agree. But I don’t agree with your tone; it’s a difficult job, and there are people who are breaking their backs for the sake of patriotism. Yelling and demanding that Congress should feel the sting of poverty doesn’t help anyone, and it certainly doesn’t encourage others to run. Would you? Actually, I think you’d be a lot better than most of them, but that’s beside the point.
    One more thing: congressional offices have a host of other people working in them besides the Congressman himself. How will they hire those people if your advice is followed? What about young people still trying to pay off college debts who are working in the offices? Another post of yours asks for Obamacare horror stories; well, when that law was passed demanding all of congress be put into the exchange, my family was also forced into it. Our insurance will go up $900 a month. We are not a six-figure family. But we have to feel the “burn” that people rally for.
    I’m sorry if I come across as defensive; I’m trying not to be, and there is no defense for many of the things you describe in your post. But there’s more to the story, and I exhort you to not be so quick to insult or degrade.
    Keep writing for truth and God Bless.

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