As most Americans are preparing to deal with what some members of Congress are describing as “the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression,” these same members of Congress are very quietly giving themselves a $4,700 cost-of-living increase starting January 1, 2009.
Currently, members of Congress are heroically struggling to get by on an average salary of $169,300 a year, although Congressional leaders are making slightly more to partially compensate them for their skill at keeping a straight face while lying through their taxpayer-subsidized teeth. As examples, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, is making $217,400 while the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate each make $188,100.
While many are voicing outrage at what they see as Congress’ arrogance, one prominent economist is urging the public to “step back and look at the larger picture before forming too hasty and opinion.”
In an exclusive interview with this writer Jeremiah Wassah-Boolphrogg, who holds the Charles Ponzi Chair of Public Finance at the Ted Kennedy Automobile Buoyancy Evaluation Center in Boston, said the public isn’t taking into account the incredible amount of pressure that Congress is feeling while dealing with the current crisis.
“If you take the 600 billion dollars that Congress spent on bailouts in its last session, and then add in the 650 billion that they will eventually approve to pay for President-elect Obama’s irresponsible string of campaign promises, you come up with about 1 and a quarter trillion dollars in spending.
“If you divide that number by the 535 voting members of Congress, you will find out that this comes out to about two and a quarter billion dollars per member. The stress of figuring out how to spend that kind of money is tremendous” he said.
“If you take the total dollar cost, to the colonies, of the American Revolution be around 90 million dollars and divide that figure by the estimated population of the country at the time, which was no more than about 5 million, you find that the cost of the entire War of Independence was only about 15 bucks a head.
“Can you imagine what kind of Hell George Washington could have raised if this Congress had been around in his day?”
Congress has received automatic raises since 1989 when, as part of an ethics reform bill, it gave up its ability to accept pay for giving speeches and other such meaningless public appearances in exchange for annual cost-of-living pay increases. A diligent search of public records by this writer failed to uncover convincing evidence that Congress became more ethical following passage of that bill.