Friday, June 16, 2006

Congress Gives Itself Another Pay Hike While Refusing To Increase Minimum Wage


For the past 10 years, Congress has stubbornly refused to raise the minimum wage, which is $5.15/hour. During this same period, Congress has voted to give itself one fat pay raise after another. This week, the GOP-led Congress awarded itself another generous raise----this time for $3,300 (which brings lawmakers' annual salaries to $168,500/year).

With the U.S. government facing a record budget deficit of over $8 trillion, it's disturbing that Congress is so generous with our tax dollars in giving itself raises. Surely, members of Congress aren't deluding themselves into believing that the American public approves of their job performance. In fact, polls show that the public has a dismal opinion of the way Congress is performing its job these days.

The most recent congressional pay hike comes on top of numerous other hefty pay hikes Congress has awarded itself in recent years. For example, in 2003, Congress voted to give itself a pay hike of $4,700. In 2002, the pay hike was $4,900. In 2001, it was $3,800. In 2000, it was $4,600. And on and on.

By refusing to increase the nation's Scrooge-like minimum wage, Congress is in effect annually cutting the wages of the millions of workers who struggle to get by on $5.15 an hour. Raising the minimum wage to $7.00 an hour would benefit 7.4 million workers directly, and another 8.2 million workers indirectly, according to a report on Almanac of Policy Issues.

Minimum wage isn't the only area in which Congress has been Scrooge-like. For example, the House has voted to cut health care and benefit programs for our nation's veterans by $85 billion. Clearly, members of Congress believe Americans need to tighten their belts---our lawmakers just don't want to share in the sacrifice themselves.

In real terms, America's current minimum wage is worth less than ever. Think Progress has pointed out that if the minimum wage today was worth what it was worth in 1968 (its peak value), it would be $8.88 an hour.

Nor are only minimum wage earners taking it on the chin in today's economy. In 2005, real wages for all the nation's civilian workers declined 2.3 percent, the largest such loss since 1981.

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) recently introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would increase the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour over two years. To add your voice to a petition supporting this effort, go here.


Anonymous said...

Congress members' salary of $168,500 actually understates their true compensation. For a start, lawmakers have hugely generous pension packages that are far more generous than anything that exists in the private sector.

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget WE pay for the FREE HEALTH CARE that these bastards get.
I don't think the Congress will "get it" until the poor people (growing daily by members of the middle class slipping into poverty) storm the gates and dethrone them. WE NEED CHANGE

RufusLeroy said...

We all know what's going on. Educate your apolitical friends. You know the ones that never vote because politics does'nt fit into their lifestyle. Well, I do not know anything that crimps a lifestyle more than a empty wallet! Even a fairly politically ignorant citizens' vote counts--hey it works well with the other side.

Cranky Daze said...

With the price of gasoline over $3 per gallon, how long will it be before minimum wage workers won't be paid enough to even get back and forth to work.

As consumers, the price of everything we buy that has to be transported from point A to point B, has to increase. When I go to the grocery store and see items like tomatoes priced at nearly $4 a pound, and other items priced similarly, I wonder how people who are even earning a little above minimum wage are staying alive. In my area, $8 an hour is considered a good salary, and even in families with both parents working, life is getting grim.

Congress should be ashamed. Their greed and selfishness is horrifying, and it becomes more and more apparent that they are not representing the people who voted them into office. They are sucking up to Corporate America and hoping the peons won't notice.

The American Dream is in desperate need of life support.

Anonymous said...

Fictious quotes.

Internet Esquire said...

While there is no love lost between me and elected officials over the generous compensation that they give themselves, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit would be a much more effective and equitable way of helping the working poor than raising the minimum wage.

Anonymous said...

Hey Marc, what is your annual income? What was your gross last year and what percentage of it did you pay as taxes?

Since you are so willing to speak out on how the 'rich' don't pay taxes, the poor are getting refused their 'fair' share of wealth and whatever, let's hear what it is YOU are pulling down a year and actually pocketing.

How much of your pay do you give to charity? Did you put forth money to help the Hurricane Katrina victims or was it all 'social work' by means of media coverage?

How about it man? You gonna share with your info with your audience?

mudra said...

Congress is in need of a public flogging. We know they have no shame and they continue to insult the intelligence of average American every single day. Everyone needs to take at least 30 minutes a week to see what their members are doing is the best site. Then call or email them (snail mail has to be "processed first so it takes too long) and tell them what you think. Every one of them that is up for re-election needs to be thrown out; especially after the "raise" they just gave themselves in the "rescue"? bill

Gilbert Rios said...

The only way to get ride of these leeches is to band together and strike. leave your jobs, stop the presses, and demand congress to take responsibility or get out.. have them roll back on that pay hike. if every body stop all work for two days in every state, the cry of this nation will be heard all over the world.. you will get Action, congress needs a boss and that is we. let's do this now.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Gilbert, right on. I agree.