The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It


Congressional approval ratings are at historic lows. This should come as no surprise to those who follow American political events. They can’t pass a budget (and can’t live within one), hang up legislation over partisan wrangling – and then when they do pass legislation we get Obamacare (which a huge percentage of the voters oppose) and Dodd/Frank (whose provisions are so uncertain that businesses won’t hire). 

The saddest thing is that WE pay them to carry on with these shenanigans – and we pay them rather nicely. 

Your typical congressperson earns $174,000, but salaries range up to $223,500 for those in “leadership” positions. While that isn’t comparable to your average pro sports athlete’s earnings I’m sure that many in the OWS movement would consider it a livable wage. But wait – as they say in the infomercials, there’s more … much, much, more. 

We also pay our 438 members of the House of Representatives what is known as a “Members’ Representational Allowance” which currently averages $1,446,009 each. 

Our Senators have a similar arrangement although it is called “Senators’ Official Personnel and Office Expense Account”. The average payout on this little sop for our 100 good men and women who serve in that august body is $3,409,903. 

These figures were taken directly from a report published by the Congressional Research Service, 7-5700, RL30064.  

By the way, health insurance, life insurance and other benefits are not included in these numbers – but why quibble over minor details? 

So I did a little math and figured out that between salaries and these personal expense accounts, the American taxpayer funds our Members of Congress to the tune of a few million in excess of $1 billion a year! 

For what? So that they could craft decades-long “strategies” resulting in our having a $15 Trillion national debt? So they could pass bills like Obamacare and Dodd/Frank which will ensure that the debt continues on its upward spiral? 

Well, enough ranting. As I stated in my “About” portion of this blog – it is not enough to complain. It is far more important to try to offer concrete, positive and common sense solutions to our nation’s problems. So here goes.

I begin with this premise. Based on my empirical observations I believe that our legislators are far more concerned with the prospects of their re-election than they are in making serious effort to right the American ship of state. Obviously they like their “jobs” and want to retain them. (The salary and perks are probably a part of that). 

Here’s my proposal (and I ask that you read it to the end before jumping to judgment). 

As much as we are overpaying Congress, I suggest that the common sense answer to this problem is that we double their salary and allowances. But, for each day that they meet or do anything we dock them 1% of that package. If they are in session for 100 days a year, they are working for free. Hopefully, that is not sufficient time to craft omnibus and poorly thought-out legislation, thus, in the long run, we will save trillions! 

When the Founding Fathers first began the debate on Congressional pay, Benjamin Franklin was ardent in his belief that Members of Congress should not be paid – that they be willing to serve as a matter of duty to the new nation. He was ultimately voted down on this and a “per diem” was established for the newly elected Congressmen and Senators. 

It was six dollars per day. (And they had to pay for their own horseshoes to get to the Congressional assemblies). 

Well, those are some of my thoughts on the subject. 

I would sincerely like to hear yours.




Comments on: "CONGRESS" (2)

  1. Well I am afraid we are screwed, as they are the ones who get to make the rules! But if we went to term limits, that might help. and also, make them live and use any legislation, such as Obama are, they pass. Also, when they are done with their their term, they must move back to and live in the state they originally came from for at least 5 years.

  2. I absolutely agree that all elected officials and all members of the Federal bureaucracy should be bound by the legislation that the Congress passes. That might cause them actually to put some intelligent thought into the laws they enact.

    But the starting point has to be finding and electing people who are both competent, ethical and committed to improving the prospects for this country. That happens in the primary process which, unfortunately, is something in which many refuse to participate.

    By the time we get to the general election, the die is normally cast, leaving us voters with the sad choice of selecting unenthusiastically between the lesser of two evils.

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