Should members of the LSU Board of Supervisors disclose who receives their scholarships?|
Story Archives: Should Congress get a pay raise?
- 2013 - 844 articles
- 2012 - 1954 articles
- 2011 - 2029 articles
- 2010 - 2139 articles
- 2009 - 2066 articles
- 2008 - 1757 articles
- December 2008 - 146 articles
- December 31st, 2008 (Wednesday) - 13 articles
- December 30th, 2008 (Tuesday) - 8 articles
- December 25th, 2008 (Thursday) - 8 articles
- December 24th, 2008 (Wednesday) - 13 articles
- December 23rd, 2008 (Tuesday) - 7 articles
- December 22nd, 2008 (Monday) - 1 articles
- December 21st, 2008 (Sunday) - 1 articles
- December 18th, 2008 (Thursday) - 10 articles
- December 17th, 2008 (Wednesday) - 8 articles
- December 16th, 2008 (Tuesday) - 4 articles
- December 13th, 2008 (Saturday) - 1 articles
- December 11th, 2008 (Thursday) - 15 articles
- December 10th, 2008 (Wednesday) - 10 articles
- December 9th, 2008 (Tuesday) - 4 articles
- December 7th, 2008 (Sunday) - 2 articles
- December 6th, 2008 (Saturday) - 2 articles
- December 5th, 2008 (Friday) - 10 articles
- December 4th, 2008 (Thursday) - 15 articles
- December 3rd, 2008 (Wednesday) - 10 articles
- December 2nd, 2008 (Tuesday) - 3 articles
- December 1st, 2008 (Monday) - 1 articles
- November 2008 - 147 articles
- October 2008 - 232 articles
- September 2008 - 189 articles
- August 2008 - 126 articles
- July 2008 - 147 articles
- June 2008 - 111 articles
- May 2008 - 147 articles
- April 2008 - 141 articles
- March 2008 - 125 articles
- February 2008 - 135 articles
- January 2008 - 111 articles
|Should Congress get a pay raise?|
Little do many people know but effective Jan. 1, 2009, the salary each member of Congress is paid will rise from $169,300 to $174,000 per year.
That represents a $4,700 pay hike over the last pay raise members of Congress received, which occurred in January of this year, or some 11 months ago.
Before an opinion or two is offered on the spike in pay the new Congress will receive once it takes office in less than a month, let's take a look at how compensation for members of Congress is determined.
According to Article 1, Section 6 of the Constitution, Congress is required to set its own pay. You read that correctly. Members of Congress determine their own salaries.
Prior to 1969, Congress set its salary through stand-alone legislation. In other words, Congress passed a single piece of legislation, which etched in stone how much money the taxpayers would fork over annually to each member of Congress. It was etched in stone, at least, until Congress passed another bill, which raised congressional pay again at the expense of the taxpayers.
From 1789-1968, Congress raised its pay 22 times using the aforementioned procedure.
Though Congress can still raise its salary through stand-alone legislation, which it did in 1982, 1983, 1989 and 1991, there exist two other methods in which members of Congress can determine, or raise, their salaries.
One of those methods involves a recommendation from the president of the United States, who bases his recommendation on the opinion of a quadrennial salary commission. The commission, which recommends pay raises for high-level federal officials, was established by Congress in 1967. Congress used the procedure to raise its salary on three occasions—1969, 1977 and 1987.
A third method that is employed to determine the salary for Congress relies on annual adjustments compared to pay raises General Schedule (federal government) employees receive, or better known as a comparability increase. Congress established that procedure in 1975. It's based on a recommendation of the president, too, while Congress votes to either accept it, reject it or modify it. Using the comparability method, Congress raised its pay in 1975, 1979, 1984, 1985 and 1987.
Almost 20 years ago, Congress approved the Ethics Reform Act of 1989. The act called for adopting a formula using changes in private sector wages and salaries per the Employment Cost Index to determine the annual compensation for members of Congress and other high-level federal officials. In laymen's terms, the act provides for an annual pay raise for members of Congress based on a rise (real or not) in salaries earned by people working in the private sector. Or in other words, as Joe Six Pack works harder and harder to hopefully earn more money, Congress gets a pay raise as well.
Under the revised method, or the Ethics Reform Act of 1989, Congress accepted a pay raise on 12 occasions—1991, 1992, 1993, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008. Remember, Congress can vote to accept, reject or modify any pay raise that's offered, or forthcoming, per the Employment Cost Index.
In the spirit of being fair, it is noteworthy to acknowledge that Congress was scheduled to receive a 2.7 percent pay raise in January 2008, or a rise in compensation from $165,200 annually to $169,700 per year. It was revised, though, to reflect a 2.5 percent pay hike because of factors related to an increase in the base pay for General Schedule (federal government) employees. So instead, the annual compensation for Congress rose from $165,200 to $169,300 per year.
Yet, Congress is still in line to receive a $4,700 pay raise in a matter of weeks, or a spike in pay from $169,300 to $174,000 annually. Let us remind ourselves, too, that members of Congress enjoy some of the best health care coverage and retirement compensation known to man, and those perks are not included in the annual pay check members receive.
And that, my friends, raises a question or two.
In light of the condition of the U.S. economy, as well as the economy around the world, is it prudent for Congress to accept a $4,700 pay raise?
That question should be posed to every member of Congress, especially the members who have taken it upon themselves to question the annual compensation many captains of business and industry are earning as their companies extend a hand for a bailout courtesy of U.S. taxpayers.
After all, Congress bears much of the responsibility for the economic problems that plague America, and as it stands today, Congress is about to be rewarded for its failure to lead on that front.