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Congress offers to cut its pay

By Kay Bell ·
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Posted: 2 pm ET

Some Senators and Republicans might have finally found something that could improve their standing among the public.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have proposed that they take a pay cut.

S. 65, introduced by Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, would repeal the law that allows for automatic lawmaker pay hikes.

There are several companion versions of the measure on the House side.

Another Senate bill, S. 124 by Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., would withhold Capitol Hill paychecks for each chamber if its members are unable to pass a budget resolution. A similar "No Budget, No Pay" bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn. The H.R. 310 has 59 bipartisan cosponsors.

And H.R. 396, introduced by Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., who is a member of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee and the House Republican Conference Vice Chair, would cut Congress' annual pay 20 percent and keep it from going up until there was no deficit in the previous fiscal year.

"This bill seeks to address Washington's poor fiscal record and encourage members of Congress to get serious about balancing the budget," Jenkins said in a statement upon introducing the bill. She also noted that her measure "goes a step further than other Congressional pay proposals by restricting member pay to 2000 levels, the last time Congress balanced the budget."

While all these no-pay proposals make for good sound bites to feed a public that has a very low opinion of federal lawmakers, there are two problems with all the measures.

First, such pay limits would have little effect on the federal bottom line.

Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College, told The Hill newspaper that cutting congressional salaries provides a minuscule amount of savings in the entire budget.

And second, there's no chance any of these no-pay bills will pass either the House or Senate.

Nice try, Congress, but we're wise to your shenanigans. The only sure-fire way to make sure representatives and senators don't get paid is to vote them out of office.


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Veteran contributing editor Kay Bell is the author of the book "The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes" and a co-author of the e-book "Future Millionaires' Guidebook."

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March 01, 2013 at 5:26 pm

I agree 100% with Mark's comments above. If only others would think this way we could get rid of the Self-serving Congress.

Dan Croft
February 26, 2013 at 6:00 pm

They should serve no more than two terms if reelected (8 years at tops) and their pay should be based on what the average citizen makes, not corporate CEO's. It shouldn't be a career but rather a service to their country. I also believe that their federal benefits should end once they leave office. Forget federal retirement benefits and free health care. They should pay into social security like the rest of us.

Mike Swanson
February 25, 2013 at 10:10 am

". . . offer to cut its pay." Eliminate seems a more appropriate course of action given their total uselessness.

February 25, 2013 at 9:33 am

We already have term limits - they're called elections. If we don't like what they're doing in Washington, then we need to go to the polls and remove them. Instead, people are generally apathetic and don't vote or vote the same idiots in because it's easier.

Even if we took away their government salaries entirely, most (with a few exceptions) of the people we sent to DC are quite wealthy on their own. They don't need the money; it's just an extra perk. Not to mention what they get from lobbyists, and what they make after they serve their term and then become lobbyists.

Agreed that we need to get rid of the lobbyists. And they need to be banned from becoming lobbyists for a period of time after they serve, too.

Elections need to be publicly funded and campaign periods shortened. A candidate needs "x" amount of signatures to get on the ballot, then they get "$X" to spend on a campaign, and that's all. No private funding, no accepting money or gifts from special interests or lobbyists, no having spend most of their time fund focused on raising money for their next campaign instead of doing what they are supposed to be doing in Washington.

And we need a constitutional amendment stating that corporations are NOT living, breathing human beings with the same rights as living, breathing human beings. We're fast headed toward becoming a fascist (original definition) nation where it's government of, by, and for the big corporations instead of "we the people."

Get the money out of Washington and we'll see a better democracy at work.

Russell Moulder
February 25, 2013 at 9:03 am

It used to be regular Americans serving the country from their jobs and farms. Then they would go back to work in their regular lives after they served this country. Now it is just Professional Politicians with their own agendas.