When I Was Young Meme
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While Elders Scrabble, Congress Gets a Pay Raise

Worn down by an unnecessary war in the Middle East, presidential assaults on civil liberties, tax cuts for the rich, stratospheric medical costs, government-sponsored torture and innumerable other complaints about Washington politics, Crabby Old Lady joined millions of her fellow citizens in cautiously applauding the new Democratic majority in Congress the morning after the 2006 election.

Crabby’s (mild) euphoria was short-lived as it soon became evident that Congress had not changed at all. It continued to rubber-stamp President Bush’s initiatives, and apparently most of the rest of the country is in agreement with Crabby. Congress’s approval rating currently stands at an all-time low of 25 percent [December AP-Ipsos poll].

Now, with a federal budget deficit in numbers unheard of in the history of the world and increasing at a rate of billions of dollars a week, word comes that lawmakers have given themselves a cost-of-living increase for 2008 of $4,100 for the average lawmaker to an annual wage $169,300.

Those who hold higher positions of power, like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi [D-Calif.] for example, get slightly more. Her salary goes from $212,100 last year to $217,400.

Crabby Old Lady doesn’t begrudge Congress its rate of pay, but she gets her knickers in a big-time twist when her representatives give themselves a larger increase than Social Security beneficiaries, both of which are supposed to be based on cost-of-living statistics. Social Security benefits were raised for 2008 by 2.3 percent; Congress gave themselves 2.5 percent.

With the average Social Security benefit at $964.50 in November 2007, the difference doesn’t amount to much: $266 annually at 2.3 percent versus $289 annually at 2.5 percent. Just $23. But it’s the principle that bothers Crabby:

“Rep Jim Matheson, [D-Utah], a leading critic of the COLA process, said in an interview that he’s not proposing that members of Congress never get a pay raise. But he said that, in a time of budget deficits when many people are undergoing economic hardship, ‘at least we ought to have an up-and-down vote on it. The whole process appears so secretive.’”
Houston Chronicle, 12 January 2008

And Congress wonders why the country hates them so much. If they had given themselves the 2.3 percent increase to match their largest voting bloc, their annual salary would be only $300 lower. Not a bad price, in Crabby’s lights, for Congress to appear as though they have a glimmer of recognition that their constituents are scrabbling to get by. Crabby Old Lady will keep this in mind come the November election.

[At The Edler Storytelling Place today, Lia tells another in her ongoing series of stories on embarrassments and humiliations titled Country Bumpkin.]


It would be nice to think they had a glimmer of caring, but it's obvious they think they can get away with anything. When I look at how few people care about what goes on there, how ignorant most are, how so many decide their voting, it's not surprising they'd feel that way :(


I wouldn't begrudge them the pay increase if they just did what we elected them to do. The polls show that the public wants us out of Iraq now and they want the economy fixed. Most also want Cheney and Bush to be held accountable for their actions and want habeas corpus for all returned to our legal system. The public want the secrecy in government to stop and want wiretapping of citizens to end now. What in this list of problems has Congress solved? Instead they introduce and vote for that heinous "Thought Crime bill". It's no wonder the public hold them in such contempt.

SS recipients didn't actually receive a 2.3 percent increase because the premium for Medicare, which is deducted from their SS check, also increased. But, as we all know, Congress gets the best health care available for free and for life.

Grrrrr!!! I'd better quit now before I work myself into a rage.

You're so right, George P. Sometimes Crabby Old Lady believes it is a conspiracy against elders to raise the SSA premiums each year exactly enough to eat up the COLA raise.

But Crabby knows her governments would never do anything like that...or would they?

The Democratic congress can't get much done until they have enough people to override a veto and shut down the constant filibustering by the Republicans. Every single bill that the Democrats have proposed has been filibustered or vetoed.

I have a friend who tends bar in a hotel near the Capital. His stories about the famous Washington insiders he serves speaks clearly of the “financial freedom” they enjoy. Their salary is just a part of their income. I recall reading that lobbyists spend roughly nine billion a year on influencing our corporate public servants, many of whom will move on (overtly or covertly) into highly lucrative employment as part of this cycle of influence. I repeat and repeat, “public finance of all political campaigns” is the answer, but will only receive attention at the level of window dressing for the masses.

Speaking of Lobbyists, why don't we call them by their real name?


Could you please explain to me why the journalists who should be pointing out this behavior are following Britney Spears?

Of course, Betty is right. I was disappointed, though, when Nancy Pelosi said, "Impeachment is off the table." at the very beginning of her tenure. I was also disappointed when they didn't stand their ground on funding the war. Even if they couldn't win, it would have made a loud statement.

Yeah, and the cost of food, gas, etc. went up 7% last year. And I got a 15-cent an hour raise at my part-time job. I really sympathize with these poor people in Congress needing an extra 4000 bucks of OUR money -- so they can take away our rights with a thought crimes bill.

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