Great idea from Gabby Giffords: Super Committee could cut Congressional pay

posted at 7:20 pm on November 18, 2011 by Tina Korbe

Just days before the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson that forever changed her life, Rep. Gabby Giffords introduced legislation to cut the salaries of members of Congress by five percent. Now, as the 12 members of the Super Committee struggle to adequately reduce the nation’s borrowing to avoid the sequestration triggers, her staffers have made a point to remind them of Giffords’ idea to slash congressional pay.

Her office corralled 25 lawmakers from both sides of the aisle (11 Republicans and 14 Democrats) to write a letter to the committee, urging them to consider Giffords’ proposal as yet one more way to reduce spending.

It’s a common-sense suggestion that would save $50 million over the next 10 years. Take the idea a step further and reduce Congressional compensation by 10 percent … and those savings increase to $100 million.

It’d be one thing if the members of Congress were barely squeaking by, if nobody wanted to be in Congress because the incentives were just so poor. But that’s hardly the case. According to the letter, U.S. members of Congress receive salaries that are 3.4 times the average full-time wage. That makes our legislators among the most generously compensated in the world, as the average legislator in a developed nation receives just 2.3 times the average full-time wage.

Furthermore, the last time Congress took a pay cut was in 1933. In contrast, the typical American family has seen income fall the past three years in a row. As the letter puts it, cutting congressional pay would “send a powerful message to the American people that Congress should not be exempt from the sacrifices it will take to balance the budget.” In fact, I’d argue that, until they do cut their own pay, they really have no business calling for increased sacrifice from anybody else.


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It’s all well and good to talk about serving one’s country, but if you’re married and supporting a spouse and a couple of kids, you probably aren’t going to want to ditch your private sector gig to earn 75 cents on the dollar.
kkaneff79 on November 18, 2011 at 9:46 PM

Congressman should not be a profession.
And their staffs should be paid out of their salaries thereby forcing them to do something other than raise campaign cash and run for office. They should also not be allowed to vote for their own pay increases when we, their employers, can’t deny that pay increase nor fire them. And don’t say we can vote them out as they have rigged the game to ensure the perpetual looting of the taxpayer.

darwin-t on November 18, 2011 at 10:03 PM

I’ve got a solution… and it’s a doozie.

Congressional retirees, retired President, etc. are “entitled” to collect 50% of their base salary when retired.

I’m not proposing cancelling this… unless they already make more income than this amount. Let’s reduce the stipend by their income.

If you’re making millions as a lobbyist/speaker/investor/etc. you don’t need the government to pay you half your previous salary for a job you’re no longer doing, do you?

And this does nothing to discourage people from running for public office; I’m not dropping the guaranteed income UNLESS you don’t need it.

I wonder how much this would save; and who would vote against it…

gekkobear on November 18, 2011 at 10:06 PM

Congressman should not be a profession.
And their staffs should be paid out of their salaries thereby forcing them to do something other than raise campaign cash and run for office. They should also not be allowed to vote for their own pay increases when we, their employers, can’t deny that pay increase nor fire them. And don’t say we can vote them out as they have rigged the game to ensure the perpetual looting of the taxpayer.

darwin-t on November 18, 2011 at 10:03 PM

Whether or not congressman should be a profession is not relevant. If we take your assertion that time in congress should be time limited, it stands to reason that congressional pay should be exceptionally high. In order to run for congress, you’ll likely need to take some time off work, and when you finish your 2-3 terms, you’ll need some time to find gainful employment (especially if you want to do away with the lobbyist positions). No one supporting a family that isn’t already wealthy could afford to run for congress under the circumstances you’re proposing. It would be a club solely reserved for the likes of Mr. Heinz-Kerry.

As far as voting for their own pay increases, what do you propose? Someone has to make that decision, and if you leave it up to the voters, there would never be a pay increase (and this, over the long run, would not be a good thing).

kkaneff79 on November 18, 2011 at 10:13 PM

As far as voting for their own pay increases, what do you propose? Someone has to make that decision, and if you leave it up to the voters, there would never be a pay increase (and this, over the long run, would not be a good thing).

kkaneff79 on November 18, 2011 at 10:13 PM

Do the same thing that they have done to entitlements, tie it to the cost of living. And if voters thought they were doing a good job they would vote for a pay increase. After all they vote tax increases on themselves all of the time in the way of bond initiatives on a local level.
If you are trying to convince me that they haven’t rigged the game in their favor you must be a congressman or senator.

darwin-t on November 18, 2011 at 10:22 PM

darwin-t on November 18, 2011 at 10:22 PM

We already have pay scales that are tied to cost of living; the entire public sector workforce. That’s working out well, isn’t it?

I don’t disagree with you when you suggest that the game is rigged. But congressional pay is not the cancer that’s destroying the system. The sweetheart jobs after congress are far more damaging.

Stop and ask yourself, is America bleeding red ink because Dennis Kucinich is making $175K / year? No. America is bleeding red ink because congress is beholden to a variety of special interests that fund campaigns. This goes as high as the presidency.

Obama’s fundraising goal for the election is $1B. In what world would anyone spend that kind of money to get a job that pays under $500K a year?

If you really want to fix the system, you need to focus on destroying lobbying, PACs which skirt campaign finance laws, and putting hard limits on campaign spending.

Think of how much American wealth and productivity is wasted each election cycle on advertising, consultants, and all of the other nonsense we’ve come to accept.

And the last thing I’ll add which I’m sure will piss of some more people around here is that defence spending needs to be reigned in. The shear amount of waste at DoD is appauling.

kkaneff79 on November 18, 2011 at 10:30 PM

And the last thing I’ll add which I’m sure will piss of some more people around here is that defence spending needs to be reigned in. The shear amount of waste at DoD is appauling.

kkaneff79 on November 18, 2011 at 10:30 PM

Haven’t seen you here before. Are you North of The Border, or Across The Pond?

As for “appauling” waste at DoD, can you credibly prove that it’s any higher than in the other branches of the Government, like HUD, Fannie Mae, DOE, etc etc?

Del Dolemonte on November 18, 2011 at 11:16 PM

Del Dolemonte on November 18, 2011 at 11:16 PM

Caught that too and decided not to waste anymore time.

darwin-t on November 18, 2011 at 11:24 PM

kkaneff79

Somebody left the gate open at KOS, and one of their sheep made a break for it.

xblade on November 19, 2011 at 1:20 AM

Congressional pay is chump change. How about curtailing those gold parachute lifetime pension plans and Cadillac healthcare, which conveniently exempts these corrupt congress critters from Obamacare!!

locomotivebreath1901 on November 19, 2011 at 9:19 AM

kkaneff79

Somebody left the gate open at KOS, and one of their sheep made a break for it.

xblade on November 19, 2011 at 1:20 AM

That’s cute. My buddy Kos, err, Paul Ryan seems to agree with my assessment on DoD. The DoD spends more on defense than the next 20 countries combined. Do you really think every dollar is being wisely spent? Every weapons program that gets started is exceedingly difficult to kill, irrespective of whether it has merit. Just ask Donald Rumsfeld–or is he a closeted Kos member too? Over the last 10 years, the military has gone from a respected segment of society to an organization that almost beyond reproach. We’ve reached a stage where everyone who goes to Iraq is a hero (even if they held a support role). Any mention of the cancellation of a program is immediately cast as unpatriotic or not standing by our troops. Military spending has doubled in the last ten years (not counting ‘emergency war funding’). How does that make sense? But hey, lets forget about that and medicare (which a surprisingly large number of professed conservatives don’t want to touch), and instead focus on slashing congressional salaries. At least that’ll feel good, right?

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/04/rep_paul_ryan_a_lot_of_waste_i.html

Haven’t seen you here before. Are you North of The Border, or Across The Pond?

As for “appauling” waste at DoD, can you credibly prove that it’s any higher than in the other branches of the Government, like HUD, Fannie Mae, DOE, etc etc?

Del Dolemonte on November 18, 2011 at 11:16 PM

That’s an absurd argument. Waste exists in other departments so we should overlook the waste at DoD?

kkaneff79 on November 19, 2011 at 9:50 AM

kkaneff79 on November 19, 2011 at 9:50 AM

He and Rumsfeld believe in cutting actual waste at DoD. They strongly oppose hollowing-out the military.

Who really spends the most on their armed forces?

youngTXcon on November 19, 2011 at 11:41 AM

Fat chance. Does Congress ever not give themselves a raise? Did they not exempt themselves from obammycare?

Blake on November 19, 2011 at 11:46 AM

Every federal employee should have their pay cut back to the civilian average.

tx2654 on November 19, 2011 at 12:05 PM

According to the letter, U.S. members of Congress receive salaries that are 3.4 times the average full-time wage. That makes our legislators among the most generously compensated in the world, as the average legislator in a developed nation receives just 2.3 times the average full-time wage.

Not a fan of using those sorts of statistics. It’s something the left does all the time (Average CEO make 250 times the “average” worker!!). So what? It’s an irrelevant statistic.

Their benefits are where the real over-the-top compensation lies. And I’m more concerned with them living under the same rules we live under so they suffer the consequences of their policies. House members get their gas paid for and a generous car allowance. That’s the first thing I would get rid of as they blithely say “no” to drilling, fracking, pipelines and so forth.

Buy Danish on November 19, 2011 at 12:29 PM

Great idea from Gabby Giffords: Super Committee could cut Congressional pay

Here’s another great idea: how about conservatives not heap praise on the one Democrat who could potentially win the Arizona Senate race in 2012. Giffords voted for the stimulus, Obamacare, and Dodd-Frank; she is not fiscally responsible nor is she an opponent of ever-increasing federal power, her anti-Congress gimmicks notwithstanding.

A 10% paycut will do nothing to change the culture in Washington, it would simply be publicity stunt by Congress to show that they are not insulated from the problems afflicting the nation. But that is all it would be, a publicity stunt to improve Congress’ image. If we want to change the culture in Washington, we should start by forcing all members of Congress to place their assets in blind trusts.

Lawdawg86 on November 19, 2011 at 12:42 PM

Lawdawg86 on November 19, 2011 at 12:42 PM

Agreed.

Buy Danish on November 19, 2011 at 1:50 PM

Lawdawg86 on November 19, 2011 at 12:42 PM

YES

angryed on November 19, 2011 at 2:02 PM

As for “appauling” waste at DoD, can you credibly prove that it’s any higher than in the other branches of the Government, like HUD, Fannie Mae, DOE, etc etc?

Del Dolemonte on November 18, 2011 at 11:16 PM

As a % of spending, waste is probably the same everywhere in govt. But given how big DoD is, the dollars of that waste are higher there than at Freedie, Fannie, HUD, etc.

angryed on November 19, 2011 at 2:08 PM

A 10% paycut will do nothing to change the culture in Washington, it would simply be publicity stunt by Congress to show that they are not insulated from the problems afflicting the nation.

Lawdawg86 on November 19, 2011 at 12:42 PM

Incidentally, that’s why conservatives should support it. Poor Gabby is too smart by half: her fellow Democrats, in the grand tradition of Chris Dodd, Waxman, Waters, Schumer, will never support cutting their own pay and won’t be shy about voting against it.

Hell, conservatives will be hard pressed to get most of the “Tea Party” freshmen to support it. Certainly Mitch McConnell Republicans will vote against it if it appears to have the votes.

They really are that corrupt.

HitNRun on November 19, 2011 at 5:39 PM

Reduce their indecent pensions.

sadatoni on November 19, 2011 at 8:23 PM

Make them even more vulnerable to corruption. Great idea!

flataffect on November 19, 2011 at 10:22 PM

Great idea from Gabby Giffords: Super Committee could cut Congressional pay

Yes. It could also cut the Federal Government civilian employment pay.

Cut both.

rukiddingme on November 19, 2011 at 11:06 PM

Gifford’s idea is good, but as all too many Congresspeople won’t even notice if their pay is cut, I think a better idea would be to remove the ability of Congress and the Executive branch to take financial advantage of their insider information. That step should be taken immediately and made permanent.

Second, the public should be given near instant control to disallow any political/campaign fundraising *and/or* spending by Congress and the President, or by others on their behalf.

For example, a web page is set up where citizens can vote instantly to curtail political fundraising/spending or restore same depending on the actions the elected leaders take.

As to the methodology of what percentage vote is required to suspend campaign fundraising/spending, that will have to be determined, but it should lean toward generating responsiveness by Congress and the Executive branch to voters regarding performance of government.

Properly registered voters can vote on the web page. Reasonable controls would be required of course to ensure the vote is not rigged by special interests. If we can move trillions of dollars (etc.) on the web, we can move a few million votes with faith in their accuracy.

DrDeano on November 20, 2011 at 12:14 PM

All Congressman talk a good job while we are beyond a thousand days without a budget, we have actual criminals in Congress and if you think they will police their own you belong to the hope and change crowd thats been waiting for decades for anything to change.

mixplix on November 20, 2011 at 1:35 PM

Compared with what they can make as legally sanctioned insider traders, their salaries are peanuts. They’re not there for the pay, they’re there for the play.

SukieTawdry on November 20, 2011 at 5:57 PM

How about doing it the SOCIALIST way… based on need???? Sorry Gabby but not all Congress people have husbands who also work for the gov at NASA. Some have spouses that stay at home… we can not all be theresa Heinz Kerry…. why don’t you ask Pelosi & the other rich people to DONATE their pay??? BTW… if you had had the Obamacare you voted for the rest of us… you would not be there spouting out your little “jewels”

charmingtail on November 21, 2011 at 9:39 AM

Super Committee could cut Congressional pay

And save about .0000000000000000000000001% of the deficit.

Scrappy on November 21, 2011 at 10:43 AM

I say tax all campaign contributions as income for the candidates. LOL

jeffn21 on November 21, 2011 at 12:53 PM

Great idea from Gabby Giffords: Super Committee could cut Congressional pay

Let’s make folks in Congress like Nancy Pelosi even more dependant on sweetheart IPO deals!!!!

olesparkie on November 22, 2011 at 11:10 AM

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