Report: Lawmakers make 3.4 times what the average working American earns

posted at 8:40 pm on July 29, 2011 by Tina Korbe

For all their hard work to attempt to solve the debt crisis, members of Congress receive pay of 3.4 times the average American worker, according to a new study by Our Generation and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

The study also found members of U.S. Congress are among the highest-paid legislators in the world. On average, legislators in other parts of the developed world receive salaries equal to 2.3 times the average wage.

So, how much is 3.4 times the average American worker’s pay? Try $174,000. But a high salary is not the only perk of the job. From the study summary:

In addition to a salary of $174,000 per year, which by itself puts members of Congress among the highest-paid 5 percent of American workers, members of Congress receive more generous fringe benefits than typical American employees. In fact, congressional compensation including benefits totals around $285,000 per year. …

The largest difference between Congressional benefits and those paid to private-sector workers is in the area of retirement benefits. Members of Congress participate in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), a defined contribution pension that offers more generous employer contributions than the typical private-sector 401(k) plan. Participants in the TSP are eligible for an employer contribution of up to 5 percent of pay, versus an employer contribution of around 3 percent of salary into the typical 401(k) plan. In addition, Members of Congress are eligible for a traditional defined benefit pension plan, which is more generous than the pension offered to other federal employees. Unlike state and local government employees, who generally must contribute around 6 percent of their pay to defined benefit pensions, Members of Congress contribute only 1.3 percent of their salaries. Regular federal employees pay 0.8% of pay, though they get a less generous benefiit even after netting out the contributions. Members of Congress may also be eligible for subsidized health care in retirement, a benefit that is uncommon in the private sector and less generous when it is offered. …

In total, Members of Congress receive contributions toward retirement benefits equal to around 47 percent of their annual salaries, or about $82,000. In the private sector, where the typical employee is eligible only for a 401(k) type pension plan and does not qualify for retirement health coverage, total employer contributions toward retirement equal around 9 percent of cash compensation. Thus, Congressional pensions are considerably more generous than those offered to private-sector employees.

Plus, our good men and women in Congress receive the equivalent of $14,000 in paid time off — and that’s assuming they only take half the time off of the average federal employee. Taxpayers contribute about $6,000 to each MC’s health and life insurance and another $9,000 to the employer’s share of Social Security and Medicare taxes.

But here’s the real rub: Taxpayers could save $39 million a year if members of Congress decreased their salary to $100,000 per year (still nearly twice as large as the average American worker’s salary of $50,875). Several proposals to reduce congressional pay are on the table right now. Congress might want to get a move on one of those proposals to demonstrate a commitment to —  what was it again? — shared sacrifice.


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And I pay for my health care premiums. $40 more in 2011 than 2010. wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Jeddite on July 29, 2011 at 8:42 PM

Has anyone seen Canopfor. Have I missed the replies, if anyone knows?

betsyz on July 29, 2011 at 8:44 PM

They should be unpaid. It is a service to your country, not an opportunity to get rich.

andy85719 on July 29, 2011 at 8:45 PM

And work 1000 times less?

SouthernGent on July 29, 2011 at 8:45 PM

Not only that but they are exempt from all the laws they impose on the citizens. It should all be criminal.

Most, even one-termers, retire millionaires, with fat private retirement accounts.

They are exempt from Obamacare.

That the populace hasn’t pichforked them, yet, is a miracle.

Schadenfreude on July 29, 2011 at 8:46 PM

Plus, they stay there into incontinence of the brain and the pants.

Schadenfreude on July 29, 2011 at 8:47 PM

They should be unpaid. It is a service to your country, not an opportunity to get rich.

andy85719 on July 29, 2011 at 8:45 PM

Then soldiers shouldn’t be paid either….c’mon now, of course they should be paid but I don’t think they should be making more than our military men and woman.

jawkneemusic on July 29, 2011 at 8:47 PM

Wu and Weiner will each have over 1 million in retirement funds and bennies.

Schadenfreude on July 29, 2011 at 8:48 PM

Wu and Weiner will each have over 1 million in retirement funds and bennies.

Schadenfreude on July 29, 2011 at 8:48 PM

Now that right there pisses me off.

Electrongod on July 29, 2011 at 8:49 PM

That figure probably could be a little lower, but I don’t think they’re egregiously overpaid. If you decrease those salaries too much you’ll see the smart ones opt for the private sector.

In fact, that’s exactly what’s happening in the federal judiciary.

crr6 on July 29, 2011 at 8:49 PM

Cut the pay to $80,000/year and make them live in SE DC… the Anacostia section… No car parking privileges, make them take the Metro Green Line to/from work…

Khun Joe on July 29, 2011 at 8:50 PM

If you decrease those salaries too much you’ll see the smart ones opt for the private sector.

America can probably afford to lose three senators and 11 congressmen to the private sector.

Bishop on July 29, 2011 at 8:55 PM

They also get a lot of inside information that helps them in the stock market, and can get sweetheart deals like “Friends of Angelo”.

malclave on July 29, 2011 at 8:56 PM

Liberals complain when business leaders make 200 times the average; conservatives complain with government leaders make 3.4 times the average. I realize that there’s a difference between making laws and making widgets, but most people, faced with the two ratios, aren’t going to be too upset at the latter, relatively speaking.

calbear on July 29, 2011 at 8:57 PM

According to Drudge, Mexico has an unemployment rate of 4.9 and the U.S. is at 9.4. I think both are bogus, however, if Mexico’s is so much lower than ours, and the illegals are going back home, was this some super-duper long-range plan of the One’s?

betsyz on July 29, 2011 at 8:57 PM

They should be unpaid. It is a service to your country, not an opportunity to get rich.

andy85719 on July 29, 2011 at 8:45 PM

Salary aside, they still are getting rich simply from being in Congress. They have immunity to insider trading laws, so the SEC could prosecute you or I for doing what many in Congress do, and get away with. That’s the legal part of getting rich in Congress.

slickwillie2001 on July 29, 2011 at 9:04 PM

According to Drudge, Mexico has an unemployment rate of 4.9 and the U.S. is at 9.4. I think both are bogus, however, if Mexico’s is so much lower than ours, and the illegals are going back home, was this some super-duper long-range plan of the One’s?

betsyz on July 29, 2011 at 8:57 PM

Yeah, I read that, too. Think of all the potential Dem voters our class warfare, race baiting potus may lose. Maybe now the fence will be built to prevent them from leaving.

Cody1991 on July 29, 2011 at 9:09 PM

Yes, these congress critters get paid a lot more in salary and benefits than the “average” worker in America. But, as a former senior executive in a major multi-billion dollar international corporation, what rips me is that they also get paid more than the average men and women who make the economy work, the risk takers, the ones who will be fired or will lose their businesses in the flick of a moment should they make a stupid decision or two — the very ones who Obama and company seek to tax more and place more regulations and hurdles in their way so that the ones who work for them, the “average” workers, are the ones whom are really hurt. Lowering congressional pay won’t work, it will only provide more opportunity for those who wish to influence them. What will work, and the only way, is to primary the hell out of every one of them we can until we get a super-majority of those like our tea party people who can’t be bought. We get that done, hell, I’d want to double their salaries.

TXUS on July 29, 2011 at 9:10 PM

This is so wrong. We need to start all over again.

carbon_footprint on July 29, 2011 at 9:11 PM

crr6 on July 29, 2011 at 8:49 PM

They should serve a term, or two, gratis, then go the heck to where they came from. It would be a much better representative and experienced government.

Instead one has to ship them home, with incontinence diapers, et all.

They are all a disgrace.

Schadenfreude on July 29, 2011 at 9:12 PM

They should serve a term, or two, gratis, then go the heck to where they came from. It would be a much better representative and experienced government.

Schadenfreude on July 29, 2011 at 9:12 PM

It might be more representative, but it certainly wouldn’t be more experienced.

Liberals complain when business leaders make 200 times the average; conservatives complain with government leaders make 3.4 times the average. I realize that there’s a difference between making laws and making widgets, but most people, faced with the two ratios, aren’t going to be too upset at the latter, relatively speaking.

calbear on July 29, 2011 at 8:57 PM

TITCR.

crr6 on July 29, 2011 at 9:15 PM

That figure probably could be a little lower, but I don’t think they’re egregiously overpaid. If you decrease those salaries too much you’ll see the smart ones opt for the private sector.

In fact, that’s exactly what’s happening in the federal judiciary.

crr6 on July 29, 2011 at 8:49 PM

Let’s contrast this with what State lawmakers get.

Here in New Hampshire, State Lawmakers are paid $200 per 2 year term. No per diem.

In states like Utah and Kansas, those same lawmakers are paid between $80 and $130 per day. In Alabama it’s $10 a day.

Now, let’s look at your side of the aisle.

In Leftist New York State, those same lawmakers are paid an average of $79,500 per year, with a “flexible” per diem.

In Leftist California, those same lawmakers are paid an average of $113,098 per year, with a $162 per diem whenever in session.

In Democrat-controlled Illinois, those same lawmakers are paid an average of $57,619 per year, with a $125 per session per diem

In Leftist Massachusetts, those same lawmakers are paid an average of $58,237 per year, with a per diem of up to $100.

Del Dolemonte on July 29, 2011 at 9:15 PM

That figure probably could be a little lower, but I don’t think they’re egregiously overpaid. If you decrease those salaries too much you’ll see the smart ones opt for the private sector.

In fact, that’s exactly what’s happening in the federal judiciary.

crr6 on July 29, 2011 at 8:49 PM

The smart ones are already in the private sector.

darwin-t on July 29, 2011 at 9:17 PM

Well clearly we can’t lower Congressional pay. How else would we attract the most qualified for those positions?

ButterflyDragon on July 29, 2011 at 9:23 PM

I have no problem with paying them a decent salary, but we should quite purposely make the pensions only average, if anything at all. That would reduce the number of career politicians that cling to their jobs like their life depended on it.

There are far too many in Congress that have done nothing else in their lives outside of government. No one is more out of touch than these lifetime pols.

slickwillie2001 on July 29, 2011 at 9:24 PM

Let’s solve all of our problems. Let’s demand the introduce a bill that requires three things;

1. The salaries of congress, and the president, can be paid ONLY one all of the government’s obligations have been paid.

2. The above salaries can not be paid with borrowed money (we don’t want them feeling obligated to the Chinese that loaned them the money to pay their own salary)

3. They must stand before the public and state “today I am authorizing the government to pay me, personally, $xxxxxx even though I know the government has no money of it’s own and must take this money, by threat of fource, from my constituents. I do this in full knowledge that this exceeds the average earnings in my district by xxx%. I authorize this payment because I deserve it”

Let’s see how many of them take home a check then.

BuckNutty on July 29, 2011 at 9:25 PM

They need to eat their peas FIRST!

ultracon on July 29, 2011 at 9:25 PM

The salary doesn’t bother me. The retirement package…the super duper healthcare that isn’t the same as the crap they are foisting on all us little people…that bothers me.

pannw on July 29, 2011 at 10:29 PM

Only 3.4 times? That can’t possibly be right. They are clearly more corrupt than that.

SagebrushPuppet on July 29, 2011 at 10:37 PM

My objection is that elected representatives have ANY retirement accounts or retirement health benefits. The original idea of the founders was for there to be citizen legislators who TEMPORARILY came to Washington in service of their country. They were then supposed to return to their cities and towns and resume their normal lives and have to deal with whatever mess they created.

I don’t mind paying them while they are there, it just disgusts me that this has now become a career to these people.

The fact that we now have these numbskulls in Congress getting benefits that they can retire on is a key part of our ongoing problem.

mrveritas on July 29, 2011 at 10:53 PM

GLENN BECK HIT ON THIS, SOME WHAT, LAST YEAR:
Amen to Glenn Beck’s Opinion of Military Pay
http://daughtersofliberty.blogspot.com/2010/12/amen-to-glenn-becks-opinion-of-military.html

StewartIII on July 29, 2011 at 11:29 PM

Between myself and my employer……we’re paying $25,000 plus for Employee and Family.

And these privileged wretches want to lecture US about “SHARED SACRIFICE“?

Evil, just plain evil.

PappyD61 on July 30, 2011 at 12:01 AM

That figure probably could be a little lower, but I don’t think they’re egregiously overpaid.

crr6 on July 29, 2011 at 8:49 PM

Of course you don’t. After all, your life goal is to be a gubmint official.

fossten on July 30, 2011 at 12:03 AM

Between myself and my employer……we’re paying $25,000 plus (FOR HEALTHCARE) for Employee and Family.

PappyD61 on July 30, 2011 at 12:04 AM

Well if the speaker was smart he would have all R’s return their paychecks till this problem withthe debt is solved. and I think this is a made up problem, they arent talking about freezing spending at current levels this is about INCREASED spending. SSS STOP SPENDING STUPID.

ColdWarrior57 on July 30, 2011 at 2:39 AM

I find it ironic that my fellow conservatives don’t like class warfare but worry about what Congress makes. I know people who make $175,000/year and they don’t have the responsiblity of a Congressperson. You aren’t going to solve any of the country’s problems by paying Congress the average wage of the American worker and you are likely to only make corruption worse if the only way to make an even upper class income is to sell you influence. Other countries that Tina mentions have this problem. Sorry the top VP’s across America (not even CEOs) make MORE than $175,000. I consider this job AT LEAST in their catagory.

PS these VP’s are not the “risk takers” of our society either

Conan on July 30, 2011 at 7:22 AM

As I’ve written for years now, “A GOVERNMENT OF THE POLITICIANS,BY THE POLITICIANS,AND FOR THE POLITICIANS.” Not having term limits at this point with the inherent corruption is insane. President is as it should be, max of two four year terms. Senators should have a max of two six year terms, and congressmen a max of six two year terms. Think Kennedy,Pelosi,Durbin,Dodd,Frank……Serving the country should be that, not a fiefdom using identity politics at the cost of individual liberties. Progressivism leads to a 180 degree turn from true progress. It’s the Commie status quo…..

adamsmith on July 30, 2011 at 9:05 AM

Senate and house pay scales should have been cut back to $30K per year a decade ago.

They mill around in session like a bunch of ants, doing nothing anyways. Getting paid to do nothing is bad business for the USA.

tx2654 on July 30, 2011 at 3:22 PM