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Lawmaker pushes to cut congressional pay

By Ben Pershing
Nearly every election year, the question of whether members of Congress should receive their annual pay raise becomes a hot-button issue. Now at least one lawmaker wants to go beyond simply freezing members' salaries.

On Monday, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (Ariz.) -- a freshman Democrat who replaced a Republican felled by scandal -- introduced the Taking Responsibility for Congressional Pay Act, which would cut the pay of all House members and senators by 5 percent in 2011. She has already picked up seven co-sponsors for the measure.

In a release announcing the measure, Kirkpatrick said the pay cut was warranted because the U.S. economy is poor and the deficit is growing. "The federal government's budget is in much worse shape, so why shouldn't senators and representatives have to feel the same pinch?" she asked.

Rank-and-file lawmakers currently earn $174,000 per year (members of leadership make slightly more). Though lawmakers receive a cost-of-living-adjustment automatically each year based on a federal formula, Congress voted last year to freeze their salaries for 2010, and may well do the same for 2011.

"We froze cost of living adjustments this year, and I'm sure we'll consider that again," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said a month ago, though he was skeptical of a proposal that members' pay stay frozen until the federal budget is balanced: "That's a long time, and I think that that's further ahead than I want to plan."

Calls to freeze member pay are common, and Kirkpatrick and others have sponsored bills in the past to scrap the automatic raises. Proposals to cut pay are more rare. Kirkpatrick's office notes that the last time lawmakers' salaries were actually reduced was 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression.

There is no indication yet whether House leaders will agree to give Kirpatrick's bill a committee hearing, or a vote on the floor.

By Ben Pershing  |  March 3, 2010; 11:27 AM ET
Categories:  Capitol Briefing  
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Comments

The thing to do is spread the word. We all have to get together regardless of which party you are from and make them do as we want since we are paying for every thing they are getting for doing nothing. Put this on your "Face book" and give the people an idea on what is going on. This is America and they have to stop treating their constituents like slaves........

Posted by: peggydlhk | March 6, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Very good idea. They work so hard spending our hard earned money. Americans are the FOOLS for allowing these crooks to run our Government. My advice? Stop working. Stop paying taxes. Maybe this will wake the Idiots in Washington up.

Posted by: markypolo | March 4, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Salary increases are but one facet of the congressional problem. Their outrageously generous retirement packages are equally to blame. The American citizenry is paying far too much in benefits, perks, and, yes, salary for these imperious twits. They're no better than the parasitic bankers we're also underwriting.

Posted by: 65tarheel | March 4, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

PAY RAISE IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. BENEFITS CUT IS ADVISED. MUST MAKE THE WORK A FULL TIME JOB WITHOUT OUTSIDE PERSONAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO SELF, FAMILY OR FRIENDS.

MUST CONTRIBUTE HIGHER SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE CONTRIBUTIONS ACCORDING TO THEIR TOTAL INCOME. MUST LIMIT TAX EXEMPTIONS ON TRIPS THAT INCLUDE A GREATER LEASURE TIME THAN WORK TIME. THAT ONLY THE PORTION DEALING WITH THE PUBLICS BUSINESS CAN BE TAXED.

MUST HAVE TERM LIMITS.

Posted by: sm98yth | March 4, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

We all know this is a country for the people, by the people and if we were to vote on this, no one but themselves would give themselves a raise. Must be a problem here? A misunderstanding or maybe just outright stealing. It really is time to get rid of them all and try something new involving a few ethics & morals. It sure would be refreshing to have a few with brains also!

Posted by: wildernesslight | March 4, 2010 7:32 AM | Report abuse

Wow! I think the congressional paycut is something all citizens can get behind. Every post I've read here is in favor of it. Most want Congress and Senate pay cut by much more than 5%. And the concept, that they should suffer like we are, would force them to confront reality and deal with it appropriately. I don't think anyone in the government, from the lowliest janitor up to the President should be getting a raise. One, we're in a recession and most of us haven't had raises in a couple years or more. Two, with unemployment so high and revenues down, congress should have to tighten their belts like the rest of us have to.
Three, with less $$ coming in to the government, just like a household budget, they should have to cut out the extras, and maybe even cut back on some of the necessities, buy cheaper supplies, cheaper food, learn to be cost conscious. Four, if we spend too much $$, we end up with creditors calling us day and night, our interest rates go up as we default on more and more bills, and many of us have had to declare bankruptcy. How is the federal government any different? I can't spend my way out of debt; I can't just print $$ unlike the government can, but they will have to pay the piper someday.
Five, If my bonus and raise (if I got one) were dependent on reaching productivity goals, certain safety parameters and on-time deliveries, and I didn't make them, then I don't get a bonus and raise. So, has congress performed as we expect them to? Have they produced effective legislation that isn't full of payoffs and pork? Have they represented us as we expected them to? I think each district should vote on whether their senator and congressional representative deserves a raise, and how much. I think we would quickly see a return to a much better representation of our values in the halls of congress.

Posted by: Kratz1 | March 4, 2010 3:38 AM | Report abuse

Great idea she has hear on the paycut. But, what's five percent, when it should be 25%. After all, if this year is any idication, what have they accomplished? Shouldn't accomplishment haven't something to do with it? What about the guys that don't even come in to vote?

How about putting them on a health plan, including nursing home plans and other variables that are based on "the mean average calculation of a statistic obtained on representative American pubic income levels. Now that's what I call fair!

Ray W. Clarke, Cleveland and Palm Beach

Posted by: ray17 | March 4, 2010 2:01 AM | Report abuse

Cut their salaries by only 5%? How about cutting their salaries by 50% and making the national legislature a part-time gig--much like the Maryland legislature that meets for only 90 days. Fewer legislative days would mean less mischief, less partisianship and hopefully more productivity.

Posted by: PTaylor8336 | March 4, 2010 1:16 AM | Report abuse

It's a good idea because it would show the people who are having to do without that Congress is paying a little more than lip service to the Nation's plight.

My cynical side says, Great ploy. Call for measures that will never see the light of day and get re-elected.

But the other side of me says, Ploy-smoy. It doesn't matter. What matters is that the people hear it and take it up and DEMAND their representatives and senators take the cut.

They writer of this story forgot to mention legislators get thousands of dollars of perks from stamps to health care to being allowed insider information on the stock market. Committee membership gets a bonus and being chairman of a committee gets more. Junkets to other countries - more. The list of perks stretches quite a ways.

Now if we really wanted to pay these guys as if we were a Democracy each legislator would receive the average pay of their district. If they wanted to fly to the South of France to research bikinis they should raise the money from their constituency. If they don't want to give it, then they don't get to go.

If these ideas seem radical, think how much pay you would receive for accomplishing nothing but putting your company underwater and blaming everyone else for it.

Posted by: thestoryplease | March 4, 2010 1:01 AM | Report abuse

cut their pay 50% til they get jobs for all of us . if we got to suffer then they need to do the same, maybe then they will drop the health care and help get jobs for every body . all they have done is work on bama insurense and not worry about helping to create jobs . we all would be healthyer if all had a job where we could buy what we needed . they say they are scared of p, loose so they have to do what she wants . lets vote them all out so they want have to be scared of her + her to .

Posted by: mahye1935 | March 3, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Why don't we reduce each state's Senatorial representation by 1 and cut each state's Congressional representation in half? Each state would still have the same proportional representation, yet the payroll is reduced by half. Yes, I know that the Constitution calls out what the representation of the states will be in the federal legislative branch, however, if each Senator and Congressman knew they could get a "pink slip" then maybe our representatives would be more responsive. It is amazing that the Federal government has grown during the worth "recession" this country has gone through.

Posted by: cliff01 | March 3, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Give the newby a gold star. Only fresh eyes can see the fools and their egos for what they are, overpaid and under-worked. After you take the 5% and freeze cost of living, start cutting the oversized staffs and perks that they abuse.

Posted by: ronjeske | March 3, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Rank-and-file lawmakers currently earn $174,000 per year (members of leadership make slightly more).

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Just think, the other day many commentators were complaining and down right ungrateful about the dedicated Nurses working the same hospital over 30 years, making $40.00 per hour. ** I say that the politicians should cut their pay IN HALF. The work that the RN'S do is much more important compared to the grade school bickering we are witnessing by our politicians every day.

Posted by: concernedqd | March 3, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

hey, POSTfolk...clean up this system...making me look bad.

Posted by: connyankee1 | March 3, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

BRAVO!!!!now, here's a lady with a head on her shoulders......next project....just how many in all branches of government...are entitled to bonuses??????...keeps popping up.....who and what percentages?

Posted by: connyankee1 | March 3, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

BRAVO!!!!now, here's a lady with a head on her shoulders......next project....just how many in all branches of government...are entitled to bonuses??????...keeps popping up.....who and what percentages?

Posted by: connyankee1 | March 3, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

BRAVO!!!!now, here's a lady with a head on her shoulders......next project....just how many in all branches of government...are entitled to bonuses??????...keeps popping up.....who and what percentages?

Posted by: connyankee1 | March 3, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

This is the only institution I know of where the employees, our congress and our senate, determine their own compensation package. The sweet deals they have voted themselves are enviable at the very least. By the way, we're the employer.
Actually, we're not the only employer. There are the unions, most visbly the SEIU. They have now become very vocal in their demands and expectations. They want a return on their investment.
Then, of course there are the lobbyists OMG...
What about our investment? Next to schmo in the dictionary is a picture of the American tax payers. We pay far more than there perpetual salaries. We have been had. When will we stand and shout ENOUGH!

Posted by: missyjaniek | March 3, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

This is the only institution I know of where the employees, our congress and our senate, determine their own compensation package. The sweet deals they have voted themselves are enviable at the very least. By the way, we're the employer.
Actually, we're not the only employer. There are the unions, most visbly the SEIU. They have now become very vocal in their demands and expectations. They want a return on their investment.
Then, of course there are the lobbyists OMG...
What about our investment? Next to schmo in the dictionary is a picture of the American tax payers. We pay far more than there perpetual salaries. We have been had. When will we stand and shout ENOUGH!

Posted by: missyjaniek | March 3, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

This is the only institution I know of where the employees, our congress and our senate, determine their own compensation package. The sweet deals they have voted themselves are enviable at the very least. By the way, we're the employer.
Actually, we're not the only employer. There are the unions, most visbly the SEIU. They have now become very vocal in their demands and expectations. They want a return on their investment.
Then, of course there are the lobbyists OMG...
What about our investment? Next to schmo in the dictionary is a picture of the American tax payers. We pay far more than there perpetual salaries. We have been had. When will we stand and shout ENOUGH!

Posted by: missyjaniek | March 3, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

This is an excellent idea to begin with!! Next, congress should be subjected to the benefits of the Common Man in America and not their own exclusive entitlements voted for by themselves. Can you even imagine an employer that would allow you to declare your own salary and benefits? Congress should pay for their own insurance, have their salaries cut back by a more than modest amount and their pensions as well, and that's is only a modest beginning. They have shown that they are not fit to vote for their own entitlements. Greed has made them blind to anything but their own self serving votes. So, let's strip all of their entitlement benefits away and force them to endure what the majority of American's are made to endure. Maybe then we could get their attention. TAKE IT AWAY, TAKE IT AWAY!!!!!

Posted by: jen65180 | March 3, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

rhpsdp (post below @ 3:49 PM) has an excellent idea.

Congress will never approve it. In fact, they won't even HEAR it, unless a truly extraordinary number of ordinary American voters/taxpayers sounds off to them (and the media) about it.

Posted by: Iconoblaster | March 3, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

I've got a better idea. Take away the power of Congress to determine their own pay and benefits, and give that power to the states and districts. States pay Senators, Districts pay Representatives. Members of Congress should not be employees of the federal government, but employees of their states and districts. Let the people they represent determine their pay.

Posted by: rhpsdp | March 3, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

MEDICAL ALERT! MEDICAL ALERT!, 90 % of congress men and women have been infected with the deadly virus known as Swine Barrel Flu, commonly known as pork barrel waste. There does not seem to be immunity for either party. Eventually everyone sent there catches it, and there is only one cure. Remove them from their duties and allow them to come home. This illness has grown to pandemic porportion and has infected the whole country. We must act immediately, we are at fault and only we can provide our government with a health care plan that will save us trillions of dollars. We must start recycling elected officials at the soonest opportunity. We must become more compassionate, no longer can we fail to do the right thing, give congress the health care plan they deserve, save them, as they can not do it themselves. Restore health to Washington in November, VOTE FOR THE NEW GUY.
The above announcment has not been approved by either party.

Posted by: FIRSTLASTMANSTANDING | March 3, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I say we should take this to the people for a vote. 10% of the people took a pay cut when they went on unemployment. Some of those are now out of extensions. Another pay cut! The rest are dealing with pay freezes, pay cuts, unpaid furloughs, and reduced hours, along with increased responsibilities. Social Security, Medicare, state and federal taxes (and sometimes local taxes) come out of our pay, along with our portion of insurance premiums.

Let's put all local, state, and federal employees on those same levels, and THEN discuss this health insurance reform. Once they are paying what WE pay, and getting what WE get, then we can talk about what the new plan will do and how much it will cost (weekly/monthly/annually) and where the money will come from.

Tell us what this program will cost, so we can start budgeting for it now. If I have to come up with more money (while I'm on unemployment), I have to find something else to cut back on. I have no loan payments, my credit card is close to being paid off, my student loans are manageable, my car is paid off, and so far I'm making it, but there is no entertainment fund, no savings - and mine are almost gone - so there's almost nothing left to give.

We already know who in Congress will vote and how they'll vote. Now, will someone please let US vote? Because the results may be just a bit different. OH, don't forget, we'll need time to read that 2000 page document and then form study groups to discuss it. We want to know what is in this package - EXACTLY - and how much it will cost at various levels, again, exactly. Otherwise, how do we really know what we're getting for our money?

Scary, if you ask me.

Posted by: whisperonthewind | March 3, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I agree that all members of congress should be contributing to the cost of their own healthcare - perhaps that would stimulate cooperation on healthcare legislation. And, don't collect a pension until age 65. Prevent them from becoming lobbyists forever and force them to get real jobs just like the people they claim to represent. While we are at it, I agree that there should be a freeze on their salaries - most of industry has been salary frozen with no bonus for at least two years and congress should have to feel the pain we all have felt.

Posted by: deltabravo1 | March 3, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

While they are at it, Let them start paying for the family and their own health care also, like everyone else does.

We can no longer keep these High Maintenance individuals from Congress on our Payroll. We are tired of talk, lets show some action.

Posted by: peggydlhk | March 3, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

They along with every other government worker should have their pay frozen during this time of economic stress. Were they in a private industry in as dire3 straits as the federal government is would they be given a raise or asked to take a cut. They have to stop milking the government tiet.

Posted by: cropsey71 | March 3, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

While wer're at it, along with a sizable salary reduction, let's throw in a pension modification to require twenty years of congressional service before a pension may be collected, and a requirement that members of Congress may not EVER join a lobbying firm after their service. Let's make this a "people's" representation not "corporatists". Time to get some balance here.

Posted by: wallyb | March 3, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Since legislators supposedly work for the taxpayer, why not let the bosses(taxpayers) determine if they deserve their pay?

Posted by: gfafblifr | March 3, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

10% sounds more reasonable, and after that initial cut, no more raises for another five years. Given how wealthy many members of Congress are, I doubt that will represent much of a hardship. They should all have to give up that generous government health insurance, too. That might give some of the Republicans a sorely needed wake up call as they learn first hand what the rest of us face.

Posted by: orientyourself | March 3, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I`m all for it too. Cut the wages by 50% and freeze them there. After all, taxpayers jut don't have the money to support them and their won too. Families come first. A 5% cut wouldn't even be a "pinch" that they feel. Not only that, they too should be paying taxes out the nose and paying into medicare and medicaid. While were at it, since they borrowed so much from Social Security and Medicare, and replaced it with IOU's, that should be deducted from their salaries as well. After all, if everyday people, average Jane's and Joe's, handling money in their jobs, mess up, they have to pay for it out of THEIR checks...why not politicians?

Posted by: Angelgirl1 | March 3, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

5% isn't going to accomplish anything. If you cut the salaries of these lawmakers by 50%, they still wouldn't be suffering as much as most of us are, but they would at least have to face the battle of trying to survive in the economy that they have destroyed. Thanks to them, $80K a year no longer guarantees anyone a good life.

Posted by: websmith1 | March 3, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm all for it, too. If they were in the private sector, they'd have all been fired by now. They aren't worth half what they're getting in salaries and benefits.

Posted by: Lilycat1 | March 3, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

GREAT idea here! While we're at it, how about we get rid of "Federally provided health care for former congresspeople for life"?

How these people are compensated now has little to do with the real world back in the states they serve. Maybe we should pay them according to the average income in their state year-by-year?

ANYTHING but the way we currently compensate them for doing a lousy job.

Posted by: MT_Guy | March 3, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

GREAT idea here! While we're at it, how about we get rid of "Federally provided health care for former congresspeople for life"?

How these people are compensated now has little to do with the real world back in the states they serve. Maybe we should pay them according to the average income in their state year-by-year?

ANYTHING but the way we currently compensate them for doing a lousy job.

Posted by: MT_Guy | March 3, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Now THAT is a wonderful idea. Instead, Bunning wanted the unemployed to further suffer the consequences of what drove jobs overseas. Let's see if he will speak up about cutting congress pay.

Posted by: hadelaide | March 3, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

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