Sunday, June 16, 2019

Should Members Of Congress Get An Increase In Pay?


Crooked scumbag Steny Hoyer-- who had an operative and mutual friend tell me he doesn't like being called a "crooked scumbag"-- was forced to withdraw, for now, his 18% congressional pay-raise plan. There's been a lively debate about the pros and cons of the pay raise. My bottom line is that $174,000 a year PLUS a very generous expense account (members' MRAs are over a million dollars a year now, although it can't be used for home rental) and full health insurance is more than enough-- in fact, too much, especially because their job evaluations by the American people are so dismal. 

This post by David Hawkings was published by Roll Call last year: Wealth of Congress: Richer Than Ever, but Mostly at the Very Top. "The people’s representatives," he wrote, "just keep getting richer, and doing so faster than the people represented. The cumulative net worth of senators and House members jumped by one-fifth in the two years before the start of this Congress, outperforming the typical American’s improved fortunes as well as the solid performance of investment markets during that time... [T]he median minimum net worth (meaning half are worth more, half less) of today’s senators and House members was $511,000 at the start of this Congress, an upward push of 16 percent over just two years-- and quintuple the median net worth of an American household, which the Federal Reserve pegged at $97,300 in 2016. The financial disparity between those who try to govern and those who are governed is almost certainly even greater than that."

The arguments in favor of the raise include practical considerations like how hard it is to buy a house in the DC area on that kind of money, how hard it is to maintain two households, one in DC and one back home, and how high the cost of living is in the DC area. Then others have a slightly more abstract argument, namely that to compete for the best people we have to be offering good money and that Congress should just be a playground for the wealthy. Let me bat these down one at a time:
1- Few members buy their own homes until they retire from Congress to become rich lobbyists; they rent.
2- Many members have roommates, usually other members of Congress. I have long thought Congress should build a large apartment building and let members rent subsidized apartments.
3-There are plenty of working class and middle class families who manage to survive within the area's high cost of living. We're elected representatives, not a House of Lords.
4- The "best people" aren't just in it for the money and in any case, $174,000 a year plus expenses and healthcare is very good compensation, especially for a non-executive job.
5- Congress already is a playground for the wealthy and I never heard a working class person sneer at the money congressional positions offer.
6- One more thing-- if, as some of the members claim, it's really all about their staff getting market value salaries, give the staff raises, not the members.

Last week, writing for Politico, Sarah Ferris and Heather Caygle reported that Hoyer is being roundly attacked for his proposal to raise congressional pay. Some of the reasons, though, were just typical cowardice from the careerists.
The No. 2 House Democrat is taking fire from across the caucus after trying to enact the salary bump, a move some vulnerable Democrats fretted would be politically disastrous and could even cost them their seats next year.

In the broader caucus, the majority of Democrats are on board with Hoyer, arguing that congressional salaries for lawmakers and staff have failed to keep pace with skyrocketing costs of housing in the Washington area, as well as back home. But many members are reluctant to speak up, privately complaining the attack ad basically writes itself. Hoyer is now waging war on multiple fronts-- an ugly public relations battle, a fraught fight with Republicans and fierce criticism within his own party, including some close allies-- in effort to give lawmakers a cost-of-living boost.

In a closed-door meeting Monday night, Hoyer fended off members of his own leadership team in a testy exchange. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who leads the Democratic Caucus’ messaging arm, said he would vote against the pay hike on the floor. But Hoyer pushed back, telling Cicilline that his spot at the leadership table sometimes required taking tough votes, according to multiple sources familiar with the conversation.

...Other top Democrats sided with Hoyer in the meeting about ending the pay-freeze, including Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic Caucus chair [and always the most pathetic shill in the entire House]. And multiple lawmakers have approached Hoyer privately and thanked him for continuing to push the issue.

The perennially contentious issue is causing a split, pitting many battleground freshmen against longtime Democrats who say they’re fighting for fair pay for their staffs.

“I do not pay attention to the frontliners. Most of them are scared of their shadows. At some point you have to do what’s best for the institution,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, who backed Hoyer over the pay issue in a recent meeting with GOP leaders. “I absolutely think there’s a majority of members who are for this idea.”

Hoyer remains defiant even after Democrats yanked a spending bill, typically considered the least contentious measure of all, because it would have forced a vote on the pay issue. Hoyer and other supporters argue that it’s not a pay increase but simply an adjustment to keep salaries in line with rising living costs after a decade of stagnant wages-- a position Hoyer has taken for decades.

The Maryland Democrat told reporters Tuesday that lawmakers would indeed vote on the $4,500 pay increase in the coming months, and insisted he can still make a truce with Republicans who object to the pay boost.

“Unlike some members, I’m pretty out front,” Hoyer told reporters Tuesday. “I think [a cost-of-living] adjustment is appropriate. Members have now seen 10 years of a freeze. We don’t want to have only rich people here.”

An aide to Hoyer said the majority leader will talk with Democrats and Republicans about the issue to see whether they'll address it in an appropriations bill or elsewhere.

But within the Democratic Caucus, a small group of lawmakers is publicly and privately fuming at Hoyer, arguing that he consulted Republican leaders but not his own caucus.

“I don’t think it was wise at this moment, that’s for sure,” said Rep. Dan Kildee, who represents the city of Flint, Mich., where the average annual income is about $26,000. Members of Congress earn $174,000. “When working Americans are not seeing their wages go up, I can’t imagine how we do this.”

“A lot of us think that it’s the wrong move and the wrong time," added Rep. Ben McAdams of Utah.. "I think people do expect to work together, but let’s work to solve health care and the rising cost of prescription drugs before we work together to give ourselves a raise."

McAdams, one of Democrats’ most vulnerable freshmen, expressed his opposition to Hoyer and introduced an amendment that would have blocked the increase.

Hoyer-- who often touts his ties to the party’s moderate members, including many in the historic freshman class-- has suddenly found himself at odds with many of the new Democratic members who helped deliver the majority.

Instead, he has won support from progressives, including freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)-- who tweeted in favor of the cost-of-living adjustment-- [proving not even the best members are right all the time] while hearing an earful from battleground Democrats like McAdams and Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC).

But not all swing-district Democrats are looking to avoid a floor fight on the issue.

“I don’t need the increase personally. But not everybody is in that position, and I want the country served by the best and brightest,” said Rep. Dean Phillips, a wealthy Minnesota businessman who ousted a GOP incumbent in 2018. “I think Mr. Hoyer is looking out for people, and that’s what we should be doing.”

A piece of crap like Phillips couldn't possibly understand that "the best and the brightest" doesn't usually ever coincide with the "greediest and most selfish." How about raising the minimum wage first, New Dem asshole? Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), co-chair of the Progressive Caucus noted that "The expenses that go along with this position are substantial. We have to be able to explain some of this, but in the end, we want to fight for every worker to get raises every year, that should be part of our platform."
Hoyer’s plan required buy-in from House Republican leaders-- an accord that he thought he had secured in a private meeting with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA).

But the party leaders’ hold-hands-and-jump strategy backfired after the National Republican Congressional Committee, the House GOP’s campaign arm, failed to follow directives from McCarthy not to attack Democrats on the issue.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, McCarthy would not publicly endorse the idea. But he didn’t rule it out, and his talking points closely matched Hoyer’s-- arguing that Congress shouldn’t be run by the rich and pointing out that the executive branch has been taking cost-of-living increases even as Congress froze its own pay.

“I do not want Congress, at the end of the day, to only be a place that millionaires serve. This should be a body of the people. And I think it’s something that should be looked at it,” McCarthy said.
Plus... imagine what Trump would have to say while he was vetoing the stupid bill anyway!

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At 6:09 PM, Blogger Gadfly said...

You forgot to mention that many besides Steny support the pay grab, including blessed St. AOC.

At 9:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Give them the minimum wage

At 9:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We the People should get to pass judgment on whether "our" elected officials should be paid based on their performance in office before any checks get issued. If they don't please us, they can go find other work.

At 5:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If congress were functional and members displayed fidelity to their oaths of office, I would not have a problem with a pay raise.
But congress has been stealing money for 40 years... albeit with voters' blessings.

If there were a revolution, and there really should be, all 535 plus everyone that served and is now a lobbyist since 1980, should be lined up against a wall to be judged by everyone below the poverty line (about 100 million or so), each with a bucket full of rocks to throw. however, everyone holding a bucket cannot have voted for any of them ever. that would reduce it some... but there would still be plenty of rocks.

then their heads should be mounted on pikes around the national mall. below their heads would be a sign with their lifetime corporate bribery amount. they would be arranged in order based on that number, the highest starting at the white house.

Then nancy ohanion could draw a cartoon of Washington, Jefferson, franklin and adams weeping.


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