Congressional Pay Raise

Isn’t there a bit of a conflict of interest in having members of Congress vote their own pay raises? They’ve done it again. Now I grant you that a 3.4-percent raise is not all that much, but when you weigh it against the fact that they’re already receiving more than they’re worth, then that extra $4,648 per year really is a lot. The pay raise proposal is part of an overall $27.8 billion appropriations bill that the House of Representatives approved last week (July 15).

Come January, lawmakers’ salaries will go from $136,700 to $141,348. Congressional leaders make up to $175,400. Those are big bucks. I know people working in good jobs in the private sector who have been slaving for 18 or more years, and they don’t get even half those lower figures. So, what’s so special about their jobs? I know they get lots of good vacation time. They get really good perks. They don’t accomplish very much and now they’re getting a reward.

I do have to say, though, that lawmakers didn’t take a raise for six years and that was very decent of them. Inflation is only running 2-percent so by taking 3.4, I guess they’re making up for that decency.

This bill will also result in the president’s salary being doubled from $200,000 per year to $400,000 starting January 2001. That’s $7,692 per week! While the president’s salary is below that of many corporate executives, those people usually don’t get free rent and board. Additionally, the president gets free transportation, free medical, free cable TV, free vacations, free parties and other entertainment, lots of nifty gifts from around the world, and numerous other perks.

Does he have to declare all those freebies on his income tax return like the rest of the American people are expected to do, and if so, at what percentage? I imagine free rent in the White House would be worth quite a bit for him, his wife and daughter. Figure $10,000 a month at that ritzy location and with all those rooms? That would be $120,000 a year – it should probably be more but we’ll be conservative; food for three would have to cost at least $10,400 a year at $200 per week; cable TV-all premium channels, about $5,200 per year; free medical about $14,400 if you calculated just insurance costs for two adults and one less than an adult; one movie with popcorn and drink per week for 3 – $2,626 per year; free transportation on your own plane to various locales around the world – a rough guess at $300,000 per year; free hotels – shall we make it $50,000 which is probably low? Declaration of gifts? Golly, that’s a hard one so I’ll leave it alone, besides I believe there is a law that says it’s okay for him to accept gifts up to a certain cost. Here alone I calculated $502,626 worth of freebies and I bet that’s low. So, shouldn’t he owe us!

Add that figure to the proposed salary increase and our guy is getting close to a million dollars a year and if Bill Clinton stays in the White House, let’s make sure we deduct a good amount for all that dilly-dallying in the Oval Office when he should have been working.

In case you missed the gist of this article. They aren’t worth it. Our lawmakers are overpaid. They don’t accomplish what they get paid to do. I say give ’em hell, before you give them a raise. (original post July 21, 1999)

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