I thought I would take the time today to offer some information regarding congress; the House of Representatives, and the Senate. Let’s begin with pay and benefits.
In 1789, legislators volunteered their services for the people of the new nation. Most were businessmen and other professionals whose income was well above average. However, they believed that it was important to take time away from their personal lives to serve their nation.
Today, the base salary for all 535 members of congress is $174,000 per year. Added to that amount is an excellent healthcare package, and retirement benefits based on longevity. They are not required to participate in social security or Medicare, although they are supposed to work for you. In addition, committee chairmen and others receive additional pay. For example, Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, receives $223,500 per year.
This year the Senate will be in session for 133 days; the House 132. However, a congressman is only required to be in the Capitol 100 days each year. Each day they are in Washington, they are required by their party to spend one-third of their time on phones, asking for donations. Congressmen do not read the bills proposed by other congressmen. They have ‘aides’ who read them and offer a synopsis.
Compare their responsibility to the average American who earns approximately $73,200 each year. He or she works about 240 days with two weeks vacation and federal holidays off.
The 114th congress will be known as the ‘least productive in history.’ It became the third congress in a row to do less than their predecessors. Of the approximate 5,000 bills presented to a congress, only five percent become law.
So, in 2009, when Mitch McConnell promised that Republicans would do nothing as long as President Obama was in office, he began stealing a total of $1,547,200 over eight years, not including benefits. He also received an allowance of $2,600,000 each year for his personal staff. Will Rogers once said; “be glad you’re not getting all the government you pay for.”
It appears to me that we pay them for nothing. They live lives of luxury and privilege, but don’t believe that single mothers deserve an increase in minimum wage. They don’t want you to have healthcare; they have the best taxpayer dollars can buy.
One last thing; how many of you are aware that congress decides how much money it makes? Did you know that no one other than congress itself has control over their annual income and benefits packages. Now, add to all of this the tens-of-thousands they receive from lobbyists each year. Now you understand how these 535 men and women become millionaires.
I once told a group of high school seniors who were planning to attend college that if making money was their only goal, only two professions are guaranteed to make a man or woman a millionaire without working for it; a television evangelist, or a politician.
By James Turnage
Follow me on twitter; @jamesturnagenov
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