Taxpayers fund more than $200,000 in bonuses for congressional staffers of the VT delegation

posted at 3:30 pm on January 16, 2012 by Tina Korbe

Why not a membership to the jelly-of-the-month club? After all, that’s “the gift that keeps on giving!” But, no, nothing so affordable for the members of the staffs of three Vermont congressmen:

As demands for fiscal austerity dominated debate in Washington, Vermont’s three congressional lawmakers gave their staffers a combined $236,830 in bonuses last year. …

Of the three lawmakers, Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, gave the most in bonuses. Twenty-nine of his personal office staffers received bonuses ranging from $1,500 to $5,000 last year, totaling $138,830. Leahy, who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, also gave bonuses to 25 committee staffers, totaling $112,048. …

[Sen. Bernie] Sanders gave $2,000 bonuses to 32 people on his personal staff, totaling $64,000. He also gave $2,000 bonuses to two staffers on the Senate health subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, which he chairs.

Rep. Peter Welch, a Democrat, gave each of his 17 staffers a $2,000 bonus, totaling $34,000. House office budgets are authorized by calendar year and Senate office budgets are authorized by fiscal year.

Actually, this doesn’t outrage me for a couple of reasons:

  1. While it’s true that federal employees in general are overcompensated, that doesn’t necessarily apply to lower-level congressional staffers, who often work long hours and are typically so poorly paid as to struggle to pay bills in a high-cost-of-living city like Washington D.C. (Higher-level and committee staffers are a different story, though.) In fact, part of the reason federal employee compensation needs to be revamped is to make it fairer across the board — fairer both to taxpayers who overpay most federal employees and to underpaid federal employees.
  2. All three members of the Vermont delegation came in under budget and returned money back to taxpayers at the end of the year. That means they implemented the cuts from last year to this year. If they managed to cut, I don’t think end-of-the-year bonuses were wholly out of line.
Might the bonuses have been a bit smaller? Sure. But, if the Vermont delegation — and the many other members of Congress who gave out end-of-the-year rewards — truly dispensed bonuses as a way to reward hard and worthy work, then, as a taxpayer, I’m OK with it.

Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Why not a membership to the jelly-of-the-month club?

We are all a member of that club. Unfortunately, the jelly in question is KY.

lorien1973 on January 16, 2012 at 3:33 PM

I knew I was in the wrong business.

listens2glenn on January 16, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Unfortunately, the jelly in question is KY.

lorien1973 on January 16, 2012 at 3:33 PM

: )

listens2glenn on January 16, 2012 at 3:35 PM

We are all a member of that club. Unfortunately, the jelly in question is KY.

lorien1973 on January 16, 2012 at 3:33 PM

I needed that laugh.

Archivarix on January 16, 2012 at 3:38 PM

It isn’t the pols money so they had no problem handing it out, in fact I’m surprised the amounts weren’t greater.

Bishop on January 16, 2012 at 3:39 PM

if the Vermont delegation — and the many other members of Congress who gave out end-of-the-year rewards — truly dispensed bonuses as a way to reward hard and worthy work, then, as a taxpayer, I’m OK with it.

Yeah – GREAT “if” there. So – do you have some reason or some objective MEANS to determing they “truly dispensed bonuses as a way to reward hard and worthy work”.

Don’t bother – the answer is “no” – and your statement is beyond ridiculous and more than a little dishonest.

It’s right up there with “IF the laws of physics fail to apply, then you shouldn’t have a problem with someone firing weapons at your children.”

Way to put someone else’s money where you – and Leahy’s – mouth is.

williamg on January 16, 2012 at 3:43 PM

The free flow of OPM …

aposematic on January 16, 2012 at 3:43 PM

I “love” how “we” often miss the real issue staring us in the face. Like Tina I am o.k with the bonuses, 2000 for a years hard work if earned is very reasonable.

I take offense to the NUMBER of staffers. really 32, even 17? Why do politicians need so many staffers. 32 paid staffers is a large amount of human resources, especially for a politician who already has the entirety of the US government bureaus at their finger tips providing detailed briefings on anything under the sun.

To hazard a guess a congressperson should need no more than 10 staffers period and that is being generous. it is amazing how much work a person can do in a day, at 10 staffers that is 80 man hours a day besides the congressperson’s efforts.

To put it another way that is 2 weeks work everyday, again I ask why does any congressperson need so many staffers?

Skwor on January 16, 2012 at 3:44 PM

After all, it’s only money! Yours mine ours, who cares?

johnny reb on January 16, 2012 at 3:44 PM

I’m not ok with it. you get hired to do a job for a specific salary. don’t like then don’t apply for the job.
there is no reason a taxpayer should subsidize a gift to you for you just doing the damn job you agreed to do.

dmacleo on January 16, 2012 at 3:45 PM

Why not a membership to the jelly-of-the-month club?

We are all a member of that club. Unfortunately, the jelly in question is KY.

lorien1973 on January 16, 2012 at 3:33 PM

Errrrrrrmmmmmmmmm………. Kentucky???

Turtle317 on January 16, 2012 at 3:46 PM

I though socialists like Sanders did not believe in merit pay? What’s the deal??

KenInIL on January 16, 2012 at 3:47 PM

Why not a membership to the jelly-of-the-month club?

We are all a member of that club. Unfortunately, the jelly in question is KY.

lorien1973 on January 16, 2012 at 3:33 PM

If that’s the case I am still waiting for mine to arrive…

Gatsu on January 16, 2012 at 3:48 PM

Sounds like a Vermont problem to me. Oh, wait, that’s my tax money! Since Senators and congressmen are elected by states, the states should have to pay every penny of their cost to be in DC, including salary, retirement,etc. Each state could have different budgets, salary, etc. for their Reps. and Senators. Bet some of this chit would change. Put term limits in and have them meet a maximum of 3 months a year. They only get paid for three months, max. Includes staff. We’d see a stop to this crap.

they lie on January 16, 2012 at 3:50 PM

As a compensation professional I disagree with Tina’s assessment of these “bonuses.” What criteria were used to establish and pay out these bonuses? Are they on some kind of plan? Why are we, as the people funding this plan, unaware of the details around what does/doesn’t warrant a payout?

Folks getting into working for politicians don’t do it for the money (at least to start). Like everyone else who works they do it to gain experience then leverage that to get higher paid positions in other places (higher profile politicians, promotions, lobbyists, etc.). In other words, the payoff is down the road so they know what they’re getting into. Why give additional pay to current staffers when it’s not necessary to pay it out since there are hundreds waiting for the position.

Finally, these are the same dipsticks that enacted CD&A for every last penny paid to executives of publicly traded companies yet they feel free to spend tax dollars on nebulous performance by staffers?

Rufus on January 16, 2012 at 3:51 PM

Why are the jobs saved or created and the generous bonuses and comfy headcounts always government jobs?

pedestrian on January 16, 2012 at 3:51 PM

Good to hear Bernie Sanders 32-comrade “People’s Platoon” is doing a bang-up job of furthering the cause of socialism on the Hill. We’re definitely getting out money’s worth our of them.

forest on January 16, 2012 at 3:52 PM

IT’S FREE!!!!!!

KOOLAID2 on January 16, 2012 at 3:53 PM

Yeah, those are the range of bonus’ we get here at work. But we get it for producing something. You know an artifact that brings the greater enterprise a profit many fold. As for the guvmint work, eh.

jake49 on January 16, 2012 at 3:53 PM

$2,000 just doesn’t buy what it used to anymore.

The cost of muffins is going through the roof!

Roy Rogers on January 16, 2012 at 3:56 PM

We live as a people of the government, by the government, and for the government.

The Rogue Tomato on January 16, 2012 at 3:56 PM

We live as a people source of revenue of the government, by the government, and for the government.

The Rogue Tomato on January 16, 2012 at 3:56 PM

fify

Roy Rogers on January 16, 2012 at 3:58 PM

The optic are very bad.

My husband is a state employee and has not had a raise or a bonus in four years, and three years ago was furloughed a day a month for an entire year. Government employees all over the country are facing cutbacks, furloughs, no raises, cuts in benefits, etc. They can hardly even dream of a bonus, even of a few hundred bucks.

Besides that, these Congressional staffers know that if they put in 3-4 years with crappy salaries they can walk out with a cushy lobbying job and a $200,000 a year minimum salary as long as they want it. Or they go back home to law school and then make the big bucks.

rockmom on January 16, 2012 at 4:00 PM

lorien1973 on January 16, 2012 at 3:33 PM

That response was not SFW, because I nearly busted a gut! I would’ve had a lot of explaining to do!

GeorgiaBuckeye on January 16, 2012 at 4:05 PM

I’m not so excited about this as Ms Korbe. These staffers are making fiscal sacrifices now to make connections and big bucks later. Don’t forget, these bonuses didn’t come from the pols pockets but from the taxpayers via the operating budgets pols vote for maintaining their office (which always seems to go up, rather than down regardless of their performance).

Bob in VA on January 16, 2012 at 4:10 PM

I didn’t give any bonuses this year. Last year either. Even to myself.

Does that make me a better socialist than Bernie Sanders?

SlaveDog on January 16, 2012 at 4:18 PM

I disagree.

For one thing, we don’t know the salaries of those who received the bonuses. Perhaps some were warranted, others not so much.

But mostly, this isn’t their money. Would they have given the exact same bonuses if it had to come out of their pockets?

I say, let’s pass a new law. Any congressman can give his employees an annual bonus. His choice. BUT…the money comes OUT OF THEIR CAMPAIGN FUNDS. I think they’d think a lot harder before handing out those across the board bonuses.

jeanneb on January 16, 2012 at 4:32 PM

dmacleo on January 16, 2012 at 3:45 PM

Same reasoning would apply to private business bonuses. Why should I pay more for goods or services so you can get a bonus for just doing you d*mn job.

chemman on January 16, 2012 at 5:14 PM

Nice, bonuses for doing a crappy job.

Robert Jensen on January 16, 2012 at 5:47 PM

chemman on January 16, 2012 at 5:14 PM

let me know when forced to buy the product involved in that.
huge difference between taxpayer subsidized bonuses and employer granted bonuses.

dmacleo on January 16, 2012 at 6:18 PM

While it’s true that federal employees in general are overcompensated, that doesn’t necessarily apply to lower-level congressional staffers, who often work long hours and are typically so poorly paid as to struggle to pay bills in a high-cost-of-living city like Washington D.C

Uh, this falls under “opportunity cost”. Why should the responsibility fall to the taxpayer if these low-level congressional staffers must “struggle to pay bills” in DC? If these people are so “dedicated” to this opportunity, it is up to them to make the necessary sacrifices to make it happen. If they can’t afford to make ends meet working long hours at a well-connected job in an expensive city, there are alternatives to sponging off the taxpayer (e.g. 2nd job, family support, additional roommates, cutting expenses). Perhaps if these people had to absorb the full cost of these glorified internships, they might consider more productive and useful lines of work that pay better in places with more manageable costs of living instead of getting subsidized by more responsible citizens to fetch coffee for Pat Leahy.

fitzfong on January 16, 2012 at 6:44 PM

Same reasoning would apply to private business bonuses. Why should I pay more for goods or services so you can get a bonus for just doing you d*mn job.

chemman on January 16, 2012 at 5:14 PM

Bull c**p. Bonuses in the private sector are a function of profitability. If someone is getting a bonus in the private sector, it’s usually because they are delivering customers the goods and services they require at competitive prices…and if not, you as the consumer have the ability to shop around. Not the same at all.

fitzfong on January 16, 2012 at 6:53 PM

While it’s true that federal employees in general are overcompensated, that doesn’t necessarily apply to lower-level congressional staffers, who often work long hours and are typically so poorly paid as to struggle to pay bills in a high-cost-of-living city like Washington D.C.

If the low level staffers are dissatisfied with the hours & pay, go find another job. Don’t take more from us.

8 weight on January 16, 2012 at 7:24 PM

Why does Leahy need 29 staffers anyway.

jeanie on January 16, 2012 at 7:26 PM

I am most definitely in favor of bonuses.for anyone who cuts actual spending in their department. I’d say ten percent of the cuts, with five percent for their superviser. Watch how fast budgets shrink.

Squiggy on January 16, 2012 at 8:13 PM

a pox on this group and it’s family. I hope they rot from within like the decay they have caused this country.

acyl72 on January 17, 2012 at 8:16 AM