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August 20, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

$400 a day is nothing to sneeze at

Another view?

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Where’s the justice? Speaking in round numbers, it’s my understanding that our elected representatives in Washington earn roughly $170,000 per year plus benefits. Having recently released their 2013 calendar, I see they’ve scheduled themselves to be in session for less than 125 days. Although I’m no mathematician, this amounts to a daily wage of about $1,400.

Bearing in mind that the current do-nothing House has passed around 80 bills this year (over 30 of them dedicated to dismantling health care reform), none of which had anything to do with job creation, I feel they have been grossly overpaid.

As we approach the “fiscal cliff,” Republicans are demanding major spending cuts directly aimed at the poor and middle class while refusing to consider any increase in the tax rates for the rich. I find their priorities to be a little skewed.

Perhaps rather than concentrating on major reductions to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, Congress should consider how little they’ve given us, their employers, in return for our investment in them. Even as they consider pay cuts and concessions from other federal employers, I suggest they look at conceding possibly $1,000 per day from their own salaries. After all, $400 a day is higher than the average, let alone the minimum, wage.

That $1,000 cut would help reduce the deficit from the House alone by millions of dollars in 2013.

Since Speaker John Boehner wants everything on the table, I suggest he consider adding congressional pay cuts into the mix.

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  1. Since Congress seems to do a minimal amount of work that actually benefits the country, maybe the minimum wage without health and retirement benefits would be a more appropriate compensation level.

  2. This argument misses the mark by a country mile. We are 16 trillion dollars in debt and deficit spend at 1 trillion a year. Docking Congressional pay and benefits, while deserved, is symbolic and would do zero to fix the deficit spending and the debt.

    You want solutions? Try ending baseline budgeting, so a spending 'cut' is really a reduction and stop government growth for a couple of years. The world won't end if we do. Be willing to raise taxes on all Americans over time. Re-write the income tax code. Implement Congressional term limits. Go to public financing of campaigns. Enact lobbying reform. Be willing to look at and enact changes in defense spending and entitlements, the two largest drivers of deficit spending and debt. Stop being policeman and benefactor for the entire world.

    Michael

  3. It's not the money, although is nice to have, that corrupts our elected leaders. It's the power that is concomitant with the positions that corrupts absolutely and keeps them there.

    CarmineD

  4. "Obama needs help from 73yo Harry Reid, 72yo Nancy Pelosi, 73yo Steny Hoyer and possibly 70yo Joe Biden to provide" @ Freeman

    And the Dems call the GOP the old gray white party. Too funny.

    None of these Dems mentioned want to gut entitlements on their watch. None. And President Obama thinks he's got the upper hand. He can't get any of them, save Blabber Mouth Biden, to agree to any cuts. And Biden only because he's the VP and wants to run for president in 2016 when he'll be 74 years old.

    CarmineD

  5. How about Congress having to live under the same rules as the rest of us? They enact all sorts of rules & regulations and then carve out exemptions for themselves and their cronies and this applies to both sides of the "aisle." Why aren't they contributing to Social Security? Why don't teachers and other governmental employees? If it's so great, why aren't they covered under "Obamacare?" Why can they discriminate in hiring or sexually harass their employees but the ordinary businessman/woman cannot? Why can they hire illegal immigrants (some of whom turn out to be criminals) and suffer no consequences other than getting their scummy butts kicked out of office? Why can they take bribes from all sorts of nefarious characters and call them "contributions?" We badly need term limits on those in the pig sty known as Washington, D.C. and Hell will freeze over before those clods agree to enact them. There must be a way for the American public to take back power from the oinkers wallowing in the mud and telling us that they "feel our pain" while enriching themselves, their familes, their friends and their cronies at our expense!

  6. Choking on my own crow as I type this.....gotta agree with Jerry, although possibly for different reasons. Congress and public employees of all stripes must participate in Social Security. If it is to be reformed to provide for future generations the same benefits which I now enjoy the it must be a truly universal program.

    As to the point of the letter writer. Although I'm not impressed by this particular Congress, many folks who complain about inactivity, deadlock and minimal work forget that the work of a Senator or Representative is not limited to days when Congress is in session. Thirty or so years ago I worked in politics for a special interest organization at both the State and Federal levels. Members of both the State and Federal legislatures worked hard, extremely hard to properly represent the interests of their constituents. What you don't see or hear about are the dozens of reps who are work horses, not show horses. Most multi-termers are quite knowledgeable and have hard-working staff to back them up. Of course there are unproductive members...drunks, philanderers, con men and get rich quick schemers. They usually don't last as they are not trusted. Witness Boehner's demotion of several members from choice committees to enforce party discipline. Further, they are not paid excessively for what they are expected to do. I know it seems like a lot but it really isn't. Session or not most put in 12-14 hour days and, for Western reps, have brutal travel schedules.

    There are plenty of things to criticize about representative government but the writer's rambling kvetching seems forced.

  7. Here's the best explanation I've seen toso far regarding the true cause of the fiscal cliff "crisis":

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/14/opinio...

  8. Jeff,

    Math stands in the way of your argument. At some point, money from the general fund will have to be used to pay benefits that exceed what comes in through the specific taxes allocated to fund those benefits. We don't have to change the benefits, but if we don't, and we don't want to go bankrupt, taxes must rise or spending must be reduced in various area. Probably, both of those will need to happen.

    We could take all the money the wealthy have plus really reduce defense spending and we'd still run large deficits and not be able to pay anything except interest on the debt. Worse yet, using baseline budgeting, government growth never stops, no matter how many faux 'cuts' are made.

    People who fixate on taxing the wealthy are not wrong in that higher taxes must be part of any solution, but it should be recognized that without large spending cuts in many areas and or higher taxes for many Americans, our problems cannot be resolved.

    Michael

  9. Is Congress overpaid? Probably, especially when you consider the perks & benefits the leadership enjoys. But that's simply symptomatic of their prolifigate approach to spending tax dollars, an approach that historically has afflicted both sides. But it's our own fault, as we keep voting the same clowns into office -- zebras don't change their stripes, and politicians don't suddenly get more honest or smarter.

  10. Diane, do you think they are "negotiating?" I don't. Barack WANTS taxes on EVERYONE to go up. And if we trip off the cliff, all the politicians can take "immediate" action and enact NEW tax cuts--a portion of what the cliff eliminates. And, the cliff will eliminate some of the phony refunds that go to those who never paid in--including the illegals claiming dependents in Mexico. Oh, I disagree with the GOP on SS/Medicare. Costs can be cut (25% of Medicare spent on end-of-life extraordinary procedures for the clinically dead) without cutting benefits. So has anyone heard about ANY proposed spending cuts that are DISCRETIONARY? And what about cutting the cost of MEDICAID? How about cutting some of those federal requirements that make government-subsidized food banks tell American seniors to not return but cater to those claiming to have no SSN's? How about cutting fed requirements that state and local governments pay for federal mandates?

  11. Mathematicians: SS is currently paying benies to many who never paid in, including illegals with health conditions--yup, we Americans pay them to sneak in and go to the doctors--then apply for disability. SSI and SSDI. Check it out, please. IF SS is an "insurance" statute, why has welfare for those who can't been incorporated with no funding? And then, why has "welfare" for those who can been expanded so that the recipients can't live as well off their own means. If you can follow that reasoning, you can comprehend why we need to reduce and eliminate social welfare programs for those who can work but won't. As always, limited-duration safety net is fine--but not lifetimes of going from welfare program to other programs to other States--just gaming the rules. From ADC to TANF ("raise" your kids, then your grand-kids, then foster kids, then claim medical infirmity, then claim old-age assistance with no income), from California to Nevada. Then to Medicaid funding of senior housing and nursing homes.