Friday, October 24, 2003

Another Sign Politicians Are Out of Touch

Jim Abrams of the Associated Press reports on the new congressional pay raise...

"The Senate voted itself a pay raise for the fifth straight year, boosting the annual salary to about $158,000 in 2004.

The House also agreed last month to accept an increase in the annual cost-of-living allowance, which gives all members of Congress a boost of about 2.2 percent in their take-home pay starting in January.

Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., who every year stands up against pay increases, said that with the economy still weak and many Americans finding it hard to make ends meet, it was 'the wrong time for Congress to give itself a pay hike.'

'This automatic stealth pay raise system is just wrong,' he added.

Feingold said that with an annual increase of about $3,400 slated for next year, an election year, members of Congress will have received a $21,000 raise in their pay over the past five years.

The Senate, by a 60-34 margin, tabled or killed his amendment to a pending appropriations bill.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R- Alaska, said it was a mistake to call it a pay raise, and that lawmakers were merely receiving a cost-of-living increase being given to other federal workers and military personnel.

'This increase is required by law,' he said.

The pay issue was taken up as part of a $90 billion spending bill for fiscal 2004 for the departments of Transportation and Treasury. It includes a 4.1 percent raise for both civilian and military employees. Under a complicated formula, that translates to about 2.2 percent for members of Congress. This year, rank- and-file members will receive $154,700.

The 2.2 percent increase also applies to the vice president, congressional leaders and Supreme Court justices. President Bush's $400,00 salary is unaffected by the legislation."

The folks in Washington are woefully out of touch. Ted Stevens has the gall to insult the American people explaining the raise is merely required by law. And who makes the law Mr. Stevens? An additional twenty grand per member in the last five years while government expenditures soar out of control is simply inexcusable.

Fortunately, a perceptive reader recently wrote Lew Rockwell providing a glimmer of hope. "[Lew wrote]: 'It is believed that we would rather be taxed to have bureaucrats defend us.' This belief of mine collapsed with the WTC on Sept. 11. For all the incompetence of the Federal bureaucracy, I always imagined that they could at least defend us. When they couldn't keep their own headquarters from being hit 45 Minutes after the first WTC tower was hit, they were exposed, and that point's repetition helps bring down the whole edifice.

A less radical point about defense: New York once provided for its own defense of the harbor, building Castle Clinton not 1/2 mile from the WTC, in 1811. In the War of 1812, the last time that a foreign enemy caused death and destruction in the states, DC and Baltimore suffered, but the British left NYC alone, due to locally built and managed truly defensive installations. How I wish we'd been at the controls of a missile battery guarding the harbor that day! If someone won't go for private defense, radically decentralized and locally controlled is the next step to lead him.

Remember, the Soviet union collapsed 4 years after Matthias Rust flew a plane to the heart of their commercial and military centers. The Federal government has two years left."

Two more years left, hmmm. I like the sound of that.

  • Senate Approves Pay Increase for Itself
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