Roger L. Simon

American Tea Party: A Salary Cap for Congress?

As the American Tea Party revs up and the US government reaches deeper and deeper into our pockets and each and every one of us watches our futures being mortgaged and our dreams deferred, is it time for our leaders to share in the pain as well?

Is it time for… A Salary Cap for Congress?

Since our government intends to cap the salaries of CEOs, is it not fair that their own salaries be capped as well?

It would seem so, considering many of the same people responsible for the economic meltdown we are now experiencing are still serving in the House and Senate – and have been for years, even decades. To pick one example, Arlen Specter (age 79!) has been the Senator from Pennsylvania since 1980, going on 30 years. His salary, as of 2008, is $169,300.00. (That doesn’t include generous health and retirement benefits, which vest for life after five years, less then one six-year Senate term.) Should his salary, and that of other Senators, be capped at that point, expanded or cut back? What would be fair under current circumstances?

And should some of our more affluent Congressional leaders, like Senator Kerry and Speaker Pelosi, who are multi-multi-millionaires, forego their salaries while voting for various bailout proposals that place the American people in debt at trillion-dollar levels? Similarly, since Congress is using a form of means testing in the mortgage bailout plan, penalizing the vast majority of Americans (92% by one study) who regularly pay their mortgages, should we use a form of means testing while computing Congressional salaries?

I leave that to you, dear reader. But there seems to be a storm brewing, a tea party in the offing, and I can see why. While watching last year’s mini-series about the life of John Adams, I never dreamt we might be living through those dramatic days of the American Revolution again. But this time it won’t be against the British. It will be against ourselves.

UPDATE: Congress (and Nancita) mulls what to do (Politico):

Aides to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said members were free to offer amendments to block the congressional cost-of-living adjustment but declined to say if she has taken a position on the matter.

“If the members want, there will be an opportunity to address this issue in the next legislative branch appropriations bill,” said Brendan Daly, Pelosi’s spokesman.

Members of Congress will earn an annual salary of $174,000 in 2009. Party leaders make more; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will get $223,500 this year, while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) and Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) will earn $193,400 each.