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Stop Congress's Automatic Pay Hike
January 13, 2009
On behalf of the 362,000 members of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I urge you to cosponsor bipartisan legislation (H.R. 156) that would prevent an automatic $4,700 pay increase for Members of Congress in 2010. If passed, H.R. 156 would save taxpayers an estimated $2.5 million.
Rank-and-file Members of Congress currently make an annual salary of $174,000 (more than double the median household income of about $80,000 for the Washington, D.C. metro area, including wealthy suburbs). This sum doesn't include taxpayer funds used for lavish pensions, health plans, and generous allowances for travel, staff, and office expenses. Especially in light of troubled economic indicators, Congress should reject an automatic pay hike that would pad an already sizeable Congressional compensation package.
How did this auto-pilot pay raise system come about? As explained by Pete Sepp in the NTU Foundation Policy Paper "Congressional Perks: How the Trappings of Office Trap Taxpayers," it didn't start out this way:
But thanks to a series of post-war measures, culminating in a 1989 "ethics" law, Members of Congress have sought to avoid accountability for salary hikes. Annual pay raises are now tied to the Labor Department's Employment Cost Index:
Even though Members of Congress received automatic pay increases each year between 2000 and 2006, taxpayers were enthused to see the House reject a pay hike for 2007. We were flabbergasted that the House accepted its 2008 and 2009 pay raises by failing to schedule votes to block them. We're counting on you to make a stand against automatic Congressional pay increases this year by cosponsoring H.R. 156 and directing the resulting savings toward reducing the deficit.