America is paying George W. Bush $400,000 a year to front for BushCo, invoke executive privilege and clear brush in Texas.
America is paying Congress members $165,200 a year. It is not yet clear what they are doing. But for a payroll of nearly $72 million, we ought to be clear.
And now Congress is due for a $4,400 pay raise. Think $170,000 per representative. Think another $2 million for the Congressional payroll. (This does not include a raise for the First Obstructionist, who will have to limp along on his crony-enabled family fortune.)
McClatchy News tells us that "Congress approved the law making its pay raises automatic in 1989, giving legislators an easy way to avoid tough votes that could hurt them during re-election campaigns. Since then, congressional salaries have nearly doubled." Read more.
McClatchy Newspapers reminds us that Dems in Congress said it would be wrong to accept a pay raise until minimum wage was increased. Last week, they bumped it up to $5.85 an hour. Just so you know? That translates to $12,168 a year for those “lucky” enough to have 40-hour-a-week employment. HHS poverty guidelines for 2007 show the poverty “cutoff” at $10,210 for one individual.
So it is that a person earning (and almost certainly earning) minimum wage this year will gross three percent of Bush’s pay and seven percent of a Congress critter’s. In Minnesota, where the minimum wage already stands at $6.15/hour, the difference is negligible, mathematically speaking.
I think the difference is immoral. And if you think so, too, then here’s yet another reason to speak up to your Congressional rep, irrespective of their political stripe.
There actually is some bipartisan opposition to this increase. Here’s a clip from the McClatchy story:
“This is the people’s money, and we need to use it on their priorities,” said Republican Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri, who’s co-sponsoring a bill to prevent the raise. “Increasing the pay of members of Congress is not their priority.”
Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, said she'd back a similar measure in the Senate.
“I don’t think Congress should get a raise,” she said. “I think it would be a nice thing to tell the American people that we could go a couple years without a raise.”
Under current plans, members of Congress will receive an automatic pay raise, estimated at 2.5 percent, in January. In a show of bipartisan consensus, the House voted 244-181 last month to kill a proposal that would have forced a straight up-or-down vote on the pay increase.
Defending the pay raise on the House floor, Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., said she was “happy to report that the Democrats kept their promise” in raising the minimum wage for the first time in a decade.
Opponents said a raise for Congress would be ill timed.
“According to the recent polls, Americans don’t like the Congress,” said Rep. Howard Coble, a North Carolina Republican. “Our numbers, lower than President Bush’s numbers, are in the tank. To enact this (cost-of-living increase) will do nothing, in my opinion, to improve our already diminished reputation.”
Well, there’s the understatement of the day. (I only deal in daily understatements, but given the political climate, I may have to shift to hourly increments.)
And then this from a seriously Bush Republican:
Republican Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the House minority whip, said most Republicans — “with great discipline” — have resisted using the words “pay raise,” instead preferring to call the increase a cost-of-living allowance.
“Every member has some obligation to the institution for the compensation to, as much as possible, keep pace with inflation,” he said. “I think this should be as good a job when I leave it as it was when I took it.”
Remember that old John Houseman commercial for Smith Barney? “They make money the old-fashioned way. They earn it.” Show us something.