Just before their July 4 recess, our congressional critters voted to hike their own pay by $3,100 -- the sixth year in a row that they've rewarded themselves. Their pay level is now a sweet $165,200 a year. But before you get angry at their breathtaking audacity, let Tom DeLay explain it to you: "It's not a pay raise," he barked to inquiring reporters. "It's an adjustment."
Well, OK then, we feel better now. Technically, members call this a cost-of-living raise, approved annually, so, in DeLay's words, "they're not losing purchasing power." Golly, Tom, maybe you don't know it, but wages these days are so low and expenses so high that most Americans are "losing their purchasing power." Where does the line form for them to get "an adjustment" like yours?
More outrageous than the raise itself is the backdoor deceit and political conspiracy Congress has employed to pass it. Rather than vote directly on the annual raise, it is automatically granted under a 1989 law, unless Congress votes to reject it. But first, there's a procedural vote on whether even to consider rejecting it. This year, by 263 to 152, members turned away the procedural motion, thus letting them pocket the cash without even having to vote for it.
Worse, this scam is a bipartisan conspiracy. While the Republican and Democratic leaders barely speak to each other on other issues, they eagerly collude on this one. Both parties agree in advance that they will produce enough votes from their ranks to make sure Congress gets raises each year without a direct, on-the-record-vote. Also, both parties agree not use the raise as an issue in their campaigns.
Not only are you and I taxed to give lawmakers an annual pay hike, but they also rig the system so they can avoid political accountability for it.
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