Congressional Pay Raises Without Merit

by David T. Bruce

With the economic uncertainty of the past two years, we should not be surprised that our highest elected officials find the need to broach the topic of pay raises.  A recent blog highlighted the misgivings that at least two representatives have with their lot in life, citing the struggles that they are have making ends meet with their relatively miniscule salary. As Steve Southerland points out, health insurance is not free for representatives either.

This may be true; however, according to the premiums of Aetna’s HealthFund HMO, federal employees only pay $186.91 a month for HDHP (High Deductable Health Plan) family coverage.  The remaining cost of the premium – $560.72 – is covered by the government.  The average American who does not work for a company that offers health insurance, or a citizen who is unemployed, must shop around for their own insurance, paying premiums that are equally as expensive yet are not subsidized by the government.

In regards to salary, Mr. Southerland suggests that his annual salary is not enough, considering his personal sacrifices and risks associated with his job. Yet $80 an hour for 50 hours a week would probably have many of us willing to trade places, assuming such risk and sacrifice as necessary to secure such pay and benefits..

In regards to the risks of getting shot at, I suspect that those American who work in any mining industry at the wage of $18-$28 per hour realize a greater risk in their profession that that of an elected official.  In fact, many jobs exist that are far riskier than that of a representative or a senator.

Arguing back and forth, though, about who works harder, who gets paid less, and who has the riskiest job, leads us away from the point regarding raises for our elected federal representatives.

Everything is relative to the reality we choose to live in. The typical American lives within his or her means.  In other words, if we do not have the money to afford an expensive house, we do not buy an expensive house.  If for some reason, a twist of fate forces us to sell an expensive house for a house that is not quite so expensive, then that is what we do.

For many Americans over the past several years, foreclosure has been an undesirable yet often unavoidable consequence of the fiscal turn of events in our country.  The fact that some of our elected representatives in the House and the Senate find that voting themselves a pay raise is a viable option grossly demonstrates their pompous demeanor and a total detachment from their constituents who do not have the same luxury. I think I speak for everyone when I write that not one person exists who would not vote themselves a pay raise to avoid losing their home or living beneath the poverty line. We simply do not have that option available to us.

This is why, when a person opts to run for political office, a certain amount of altruism should exist. The idea behind holding a political office is to serve your country.  On the contrary, the majority of those currently holding political office behave as if they are owed a debt for their sacrifice.

We all have families, we all take risks, and we all must assume the consequences of said risks.  Should $174,000 annually not be enough to cover your cost of living as an elected official, then you face the same option as the rest of working-class America: you cut back.  You do without.

If you do not like your job or feel that the sacrifices outweigh the benefits, then you find a different job.  You can quit.  If you cannot find another job, then you can join the other 9 percent of Americans who do not have work or insurance.

Giving yourself a raise is not an option.  Your boss gives you a raise based on your performance.  Can you venture a guess as to who your bosses are and how we might measure your performance?

5 Replies to “Congressional Pay Raises Without Merit”

  1. In commerce and business generally:
    1) you miss the business objectives you get FIRED
    2) you perform as expected you keep your job
    3) you EXCEED expectations, you may get a raise and/or bonus

    These jokers MOSTLY DO NOT UNDERSTAND the simple concept of PAY FOR PERFORMANCE….and they have voted automatic increases in they pay package unless vetoed!

    Most people aren’t watching their abysmal failure at representing US.

    They have:
    1) overseen and/or supported the election of a FRAUD; a loathsome individual bent on destroying the United States of America
    2) allowed special interests to line their pockets while ignoring their electorate.
    3) squandered untold $$$ on “pork barrel” projects
    4) ignored their Constitutional obligations
    5) facilitated the greatest economic collapse in our country and left
    6) a horrifying legacy for all the children of this generation!!! (maybe they have a grandchild, son, daughter affected by their actions! – it’s hard to believe so!)
    7) RUINED lives, families and the United States of America!

    and they believe they PERFORMED! for us!

    It’s time for the “…consent of the governed” to be invoked.

    FIRE them all and restart with a new elected Congress.

    Find people who will serve their country:
    1) for a fixed term, two terms ( no renewal)
    2) salary, 1/4 of the president
    3) no PERKS
    4) no pension/healthcare after they end their two terms
    5) reasonable expenses for travel to their state/districts
    6) minimal staff, hired from existing government employees (i.e. no special appointees, CZARS etc)
    7) no lobbyists

    There are HONEST people that would do this job.

    We do not need/want career politicians lining their own pockets with our hard earned $$$ while we struggle to make ends meet.

    I must stop! It’s so depressing what these 537 have done to us! BUT they must be stopped.

    1. John,

      We agree with you completely. The other problem politicians have created is a system that doesn’t allow the people who would work for the betterment of the government under the parameters you’ve listed to even run because they can’t afford to! We believe, though, that change (revolution) is possible if enough of us work together, remaining politically active, aware, informed, and connected.

      Thanks very much for your comments!
      -Dave & Shadra

  2. This is just another sickening thing that is coming out of Washington. To think that you deserve a pay raise after the mess that our elected officials have made is crazy.

    I’m not for term limits but I do think that their pay should be tied to some set of factors. The unemployment rate, foreclosures, debt, whatever combination you want to make it but their pay should be tied to something that can show how well, or poorly, they are doing their job. Hell tie it to the approval rating which now stands at under 20% regardless of what poll you look at and some much lower then that.

    The only hard thing most of these people do is tow the line other then that they don’t do much. The staff in most of the offices does most of the actual work the rep just comes in after the fact. To say that they run the risk of being shot so their job is dangerous is just another stupid excuse. Any job you run the risk of some crazy guy coming in and getting shot. A store clerk at a gas station has a higher chance of getting shot then a sitting Congressman or women.

    Most of these people named in the article complain about the money they make. First off I make 35K a year and support a family of five on that so complaining about 174K doesn’t really resonate with me and falls on deaf ears of many others. Many people regular job plus also trying to start a business in the few hours of spare time, or a part time job to make ends meet, so how many hours you work doesn’t mean anything either. Second off it is not like it is a secret how much they make if you didn’t think you could survive on the paycheck pick another job.

    Just amounts to more hot air coming out of Washington.

    1. It frustrates us that teachers, who make ridiculously tiny amounts of money compared to politicians, struggle because their pay is tied to the performance of their students but politicians have control of their own pay rather than have it be tied to their constituents approval.

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