We need a Congressional end-dependence day
While those on the right usually complain about social welfare and those on the left complain about corporate welfare, we should all be complaining about Congressional welfare. After a look at the privileges and perks which our Congressmen enjoy at our expense, it will become obvious that those in the House and Senate must view all of us as laughable serfs.
During a time of flat wages, skyrocketing energy, healthcare , and housing costs, most Americans have been forced to cut-back on various luxuries. However, our politicians are not hindered by such constraints. After all, they have a working public forced to support their extravagant lifestyles.
At the end of 2008, Congress gave themselves a raise.
The current base salary for members of the House and Senate is $174,000. However, salaries for the leadership of both houses is higher.
Majority Leader – $193,400
Minority Leader – $193,400
Speaker of the House – $223,500
Majority Leader – $193,400
Minority Leader – $193,400
The following is a list of perks and allowances given to U.S. Congressmen:
-Free life insurance
-Subsidized meals in Congressional dining rooms
-10 haircuts in Congressional barbershop
-Free parking spaces at Reagan National Airport
-Free gym memberships (two separate gyms, one for the House and one for the Senate)
-Staff allowance of $752,400 for each House member
-Staff allowance of $400,000-$2.4 million for each Senator
-Free travel to other countries (+ travel allowance) for so-called ‘Congressional inquiries’
-Free access to a broadcast studio
-Free fresh flowers from National Botanical Garden
-Free income tax preparation
-Exemption from all parking tickets within D.C.
-Free outpatient hospital care from military hospitals
-10,000 yearly car allowance (+ driver)
All of the aforementioned perks are provided by the taxpayers. These are, of course, in addition to all of the free meals and vacations provided by lobbyists. House members are also allowed to keep all of the frequent flier miles they rack up on lobby-funded trips, for their personal use.
In 2007, there was tremendous outrage over the dirty and crumbling conditions found at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where many wounded veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are hospitalized. There were even Congressional hearings held over the problem.
As those Congressmen sat and listened to testimony, they must have been a bit puzzled. Puzzled, because the Walter Reed facility they know is starkly different from the one experienced by our soldiers.
The section of the hospital which members of Congress use, known as Ward 72, is decorated with antique furniture, crystal chandeliers, and expensive paintings.
During those hearings, Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union told a reporter from Washington D.C.´s WTOP radio: “There´s a special wing of the hospital which is rather luxurious by the rest of the standards at the hospital. Lawmakers get a special entrance and basically they get a higher standard of care than veterans who’ve put their lives on the line.”
Sepp added: “It’s a terrible indictment on Congress that lawmakers can wave their fingers at Army and Navy officials for poor care at these facilities when they themselves have nothing to worry about when they go there.”
The Government Accountability Office reports that U.S. taxpayers provide 70 percent of the health insurance costs for our Congressmen. That subsidy results in a very low $120 monthly insurance premium for members of Congress.
As if all of the free goodies our Congressmen receive while in office were not enough, the American taxpayers are forced to provide these people with pensions for the rest of their lives. In a time when most Americans are discovering the impossibility of their own retirement or worrying that their pensions will never be sufficient, our elected representatives are not bothered with such depressing thoughts. You see, Congressional pensions are protected against inflation (only 1 in 10 American citizens have such plans).
It is only necessary to have served five years in Congress to be eligible to receive a pension.
We need shorter legislative sessions, members of Congress should receive no salary, only their expenses while in session should be covered (which was the case until 1815). All of the subsidies and freebies should be ended. Do you want to subsidize lunches for Senators, many of whom are millionaires?
Though most major polls consistently show that nearly 80 percent of the American people want our border with Mexico defended, Congress has just as consistently refused to do so. Though Americans have grown weary of our ongoing foreign wars, Congress continues to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in funding for a war in Afghanistan which seems to defy explanation. Though Americans want and deserve a fair taxation policy and call for an end to the absurd and ever-changing tax code, Congress ignores us and changes the codes every year to please the lobbyists.
Do our Congressmen no longer believe themselves to be public servants?…It seems that they instead now see the American people as their servants.
In light of the royal treatment they receive, it is little wonder why our Congressmen seem to believe themselves to be unaccountable to the American people. It is time to remind our Congressmen of just who is the employer and who is the employee.
May we all find the courage and wisdom to unseat every oligarchic incumbent come November.
Remember…Congress also exempted itself from the coming economic and healthcare disaster known as Obamacare.
- With Congress taking up key issues, Reid Ribble hopes to tackle gridlock (jsonline.com)
- House just gave $174,000 ‘death gratuity’ to millionaire senator’s wife (bizpacreview.com)
- John Boehner’s Congress is a train wreck (washingtonpost.com)
- Noblesse Oblige (grumpyelder.com)