Friday, November 27, 2009

It's Good To Be The King...Or Maybe A Congressman: Part 1

It’s Black Friday, the shopping debacle that marks the day immediately after Thanksgiving. And unless you’re one of the federal lawmakers we vote into Congress to represent us every 2-to-4 years, you’re probably one among the besieged masses of this current economic climate struggling to not only find the money to even buy your loved ones a present, but to—at the same time—maintain the necessities of a marginally decent livelihood. But if you are a member of Congress, these are great times. Despite being the authorities who determine how much we as citizens are to contribute in taxes, the amount to be appropriated to operate the government from year-to-year, and whether or not the rest of us are to even have access to affordable health care, the members of Congress not only don’t have such concerns, but enjoy a level of benefits above and beyond what can reasonably be attributed as fair compensation for their “service.” What’s more, the plethora of perks that permeate almost every part of Congressional lawmakers’ professional lives seems to create an atmosphere of entitlement thinking in and around Washington D.C., which translates into a double-standard between this “political class” and the rest of us serfs.
Although the idea behind my criticisms of Congressional perks has been in the back of my mind for some time, yesterday’s article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (“Lawmakers Get Bounty of Benefits." provided me with the motivation to chronicle this long overdue revelation. In the article, reporter Bob Keefe highlights among other things the basic salaries of Congressional lawmakers, which start $174,000 for “rank-and-file House and Senate members,” and puts them firmly among the top 10% of income-earners in America. In and of itself, this is not an unreasonable amount of compensation. However, considering the fact that many members of Congress are quick to label their positions as “public service” and that 237 members of Congress are already millionaires, this level of compensation amounts to one among many perks that lawmakers enjoy beyond their duties. And for higher-ranking members of Congress the financial perks even sweeter; the majority and minority leaders of the House of Representatives receive about $193,000 annually, with the speaker earning even more. Additionally, members of Congress can and do vote themselves pay raises, even though the majority of Americans have become victimized by stagnant wages during the last decade. Sadly, although money seems to be at the root of most perks, it is hardly the only one.

To Be Continued…


  1. Its just like you said...this espose' is long overdue!!!!