Congress Gets A Well-Deserved Raise

on Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The economy is in shambles, millions of Americans have lost jobs (with potentially millions more to be lost in the coming months), and every industry from banking to cars to prostitution is getting a nice slice of the delicious bailout pie from Washington at the expense of mere trillions to the United States taxpayer.

...And what better way to reward one of the worst Congresses in American history than by giving each and every blowhard in Washington a nice, fat raise. You know, cuz they deserve it so much.

Each lawmaker's annual salary is due for a $4,700 cost-of-living increase starting in January, which will amount to a cost to taxpayers of $2.5 million in 2009...

Members of Congress make an average of $169,300 a year, with Congressional leaders making slightly more. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Cailf., makes $217,400, while the majority and minority leaders in the House and Senate each make $188,100.

The raise will increase the average salary to about $174,000, up 2.8 percent.
While $2.5 million is mere chump change in Monopoly U.S. government dollars, it's the principle that bothers me here. At my place of work we are given raises which reflect the merit of our working contributions to the company over the past year. On the other hand, your 110th Congress after having approval ratings in the single digits and accomplishing nothing of real value or recognition over the last 12 months - and after having taken a whopping 50 days of vacation by September's end (just in time for them to take yet another 6 weeks of pure vacation in the Fall) - Nancy Pelosi and crew have decided that they deserve yet another raise for all their hard work.

Now, while cost-of-living allowances are rather standard in almost every line of work, what baffles me here is the shameless double-standard seeping from the depths of Capitol Hill. While lawmakers virtually force automaker executives to take $1 per year salaries until they pay off their debts, Congress (whose debt exceeds that of the automakers by 1,000 fold, mind you) quietly takes a raise. While Pelosi screams at executives for flying around in corporate jets, the Madame Speaker is herself paddling around in a private jet of her own - paid for by you, of course.

My question is this: Why do the rules seem to apply to everyone else except for our beloved politicians? Why is it that lawmakers can tell one failing industry to make cuts, while they themselves take raises in spite of their own failure? Why is it that Pelosi and crew can tell corporate executives how to fiscally manage their businesses when Congress themselves have failed at every feduciary task appointed to them over the last 50 years? Why is it that Obama can tell us that "we can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times" while he himself vacations and golfs in a $9 million extravagant mansion on a secluded beach in Hawaii?

Just another day in Washington's "Do as I say, not as I do" world.