Sunday, December 03, 2006

Congressional pay

During the election I'm sure we all heard a political commercial or commentator clamoring on about how "Congress voted to raise there own pay while they refused to...". Congressional pay has been a contentious issue among the electorate ever since public outcry over the "Salary Grab Act" of 1816 forced Congress to repeal the raise it gave itself. But, the truth is that members of Congress represent one of the most underpaid segments of the population.
Currently rank and file members make $165,200 the speaker of the House earns $212,100 and the minority and majority leaders in the House and Senate make in $183,500. Congress did pass a cost of living adjustment act which will periodically raise the salaries of members of Congress automatically, thereby sparing them the public embarrassment of having to vote themselves a pay raise. But members of Congress remain underpaid.
At first glance $165,200 may seem overly generous but, Senators and Representatives are very hard working people, some of them work weeks of a hundred hours or more who are intelligent, highly capable, ambitious individuals. In addition members of Congress are confronted with the unique expenses associated with having to own two homes (and real estate in Washington isn't cheap), two cars, etc.
Raising Congressional salaries would level the playing field for people of all economic classes to become members of Congress and it would cut down on corruption.

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