The Center for Responsive Politics recently released a study of Congressional personal wealth based on federal personal financial disclosure reports. “Sixty percent of Senate freshman and more than 40 percent of House freshmen are millionaires, the Center’s study finds. Roughly 1 percent of Americans at large claim the same lofty financial status. ‘Even though millions of Americans continue to struggle financially, most of the nation’s newest congressional representatives are a world away from such constituents’ financial realities,’ said Sheila Krumholz, the Center’s executive director.”
In November 2010, the Center for Responsive Politics also released a study that showed, “Despite a stubbornly sour national economy congressional members’ personal wealth collectively increased by more than 16 percent between 2008 and 2009…”
Since January 1, 2009, the compensation for most Representatives and Senators has been $174,000. Compensation for the Speaker of the House is $223,500, while the President pro tem of the Senate and the majority and minority leaders in the House and Senate receive a salary of $193,400.
Even if your Congressman [1. Congresswomen are also rich assholes. Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) is second on the list with holdings of $293.4 million.] wasn’t rich before he was elected, he is now. His $174,000.00 annual salary, alone, immediately makes him richer than 95% of all Americans! Then adding in health care benefits, travel expenses, discretionary office expenses and the like will put him in the 97th or 98th percentile. Once elected your “representative” automatically becomes a member of the new American aristocracy. He may not be a duke or an earl, he’s the Duke of Earl!
“As I walk through this world, nothing can stop the Duke of Earl.”–Gene Chandler
If members of congress are “a world away from their constituents’ financial realities,” how they represent those constituents? The answer is clear–they can’t and they won’t.
Just like the petty royalty of olden days, your representative has to answer to the king. In typical American fashion, we have a shitload of kings–banks, insurance companies, oil companies, defense contractors to name a few–but you’re not one of them. You may have worked your ass off to get him elected and even donated money to his campaign, but, like that friend you had in high school who stopped talking to you because you weren’t cool enough, your Congressperson has moved on. His new colleagues are already some of the richest people in the country and so is he. His colleagues’ friends are even richer. They’re the creme de la creme–the bankers of Goldman Sachs, the executives of Exxon, the Koch brothers, Bill Gates. The rarified air (and the money) is intoxicating.
Is it any wonder that Congress passes out subsidies for oil exploration; grants corporate tax-breaks; delivers compulsory health care to insurance companies; funds foreign oil wars; and bails out the banks?
“With the $13-plus trillion we are estimated to ultimately spend on the bailouts, we could not only have bought and paid off every single sub-prime mortgage in the country (that would have only cost $1.4 trillion), we could have paid off every remaining mortgage of any kind in this country–and still have had enough money to buy a new home for every American who does not already have one.” —Matt Taibbi, Griftopia
That 13-plus trillion will be doled out by the rich assholes you elected. They will not have a second thought about giving your money to their rich benefactors. That’s free enterprise. On the other hand giving you a house or helping you pay your mortgage is socialism. Get this straight, free enterprise means free for rich assholes, not so free for you.
Peg congressional salaries to the national median income. If your income increases, so does theirs and vice versa.
It’s time for our “representatives” to start living like regular people–paying taxes like regular people; paying rent or house payments like regular people; sending their children to public schools. They might not be so eager to cut public services if they had to rely upon them more.
Congressional salaries should be cut from $174,000.00 per year to the median household income of $50,303 per year. They should also have to pay for their own health care. If our income increases, their income increases. If we get national health care so do they.
Congress is fond of discussing incentives for teachers and other workers. This could create an incentive for those in Congress to get cracking on improving the quality of the life for their constituents rather than their corporate masters. Ooo, but wouldn’t that encourage more corruption? More corruption than now? Ha. Arguably, it would be easier to tell if our “representatives” are taking bribes and living beyond their means by paying them a normal salary.
Right now, that’s a total crap shoot.