Public officials, whether at the federal, state or local level, get automatic pay increases at the start of every new year no matter what the economy and workers are experiencing.
Members of Congress made an average of $169,300 a year. The leaders make even more. For example:
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi D-California–$217,400 a year.
- Minority Leaders in the House and Senate–$188,000 a year.
Starting in January, each federal lawmaker’ salary will get a cost-of-living increase of approximately $4,700, costing taxpayers $2.5 million.
Lawmakers Try to Stop Automatic Pay Raises.
A few lawmakers tried to prevent the increases to take place in 2009.
- Rep Harry Mitchell, D-Arizona, introduced legislation that would have prevented the automatic pay raise in 2009 but although it had 34 sponsors, it never got out of committee.
- Representative Dan Burton, R-Ind, and Gresham Barrett, R-SC, tried to block the increases with no luck. Burton plans to return the pay increase to the U.S. Treasury Department.
- Representive Jim Matheson, D-Utah has been trying to end the automatic salary increase for House members with the arguement that in a time of war and economic crisis, there should not be pay raises for lawmakers. For the past eight yeatrs, Matheson has donated his pay raises to charity.
History of Automatic Pay Raises
Federal lawmakers have been receiving automatic raises since 1989. In return, Congress gave up accepting pay for speeches.They have rejected pay raises six times, including in 2007, when the newly elected Democrat majority, block it until Congress raised the minimum wage.
Contrast with Senior Citizen Increase in Benefits
A senior citizen’s average increase in benefits in 2009 will be $63. a month, amounting to $1,153 monthy creating an annual income of $13,836. Meanwhile, their Medicare and supplemental medical insurance payments will be increased.
With the loss of 533,000 jobs in November and an unemployment rate of 6.7%, it seems arrogant of lawmakers to insist on taking an increase in salary without having an open debate and vote so that the tax paying public can become aware of their representatives stand on the issue.