Here come the Dems. Hot damn. Blockin’ Congress’ auto-payraise. YeeHaw!
Officials said Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California and Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the party’s leaders, had notified Republicans they will try to add the anti-pay-raise provision to a bill that provides funds for most government agencies through Feb. 15.
“It is unconscionable that members of congress would get yet another pay raise while the minimum wage has been stuck at $5.15 an hour for the last 10 years. Senator Reid intends to do all he can to ensure that Congress won’t get a raise until working families do,” said his spokesman, Jim Manley.
I love this. The Dems plan to put a hold on the Congressional Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) until we raise the minimum wage. The COLA has to be approved each year, and it’s conveniently tucked in an appropriations bill so as not to make it look like any Congressperson has voted oneself a raise. However, I think the Dems should go further…I say kill the COLA.
In 1989 the Ethics Reform Act was signed into law to dramatically change several administrative and ethical issues dealing with Congress. One of the agents for ethics reform stemmed from scandal regarding ?honoraria?. Simply put, honoraria allowed US Representatives to charge up to $2,000 per speaking event. Unfortunately, too many Congressmen took advantage of the honoraria provision to dramatically increase their income at the bequest of special interest and lobbying groups. The 1989 bill revoked the honoraria provision. As a tradeoff for the removal of honoraria, the bill instituted a cost of living adjustment which Congressmen would receive automatically (barring the awkward need each year to vote for their own pay raises). Today the automatic pay raise can only be denied in normal business if an amendment is inserted into the Treasury-Transportation Appropriations bill which funds Congressional salaries. The COLA is meant to adjust Congressional salaries to keep up with inflation and increases in the cost of living; however, since 2000 the COLA has increased Congressional pay by over $25,000 per year.
In recent years the push to kill the COLA has grown. Several Dems and GOPers support the measure including Lincoln Davis, Ron Kind, James Matheson, Kyl, Feingold, Cornyn, and Chambliss. However, popular support to kill COLA doesn’t exist in Congress because, well… people love to raise their own salaries.
COLA was enacted as a tradeoff to get rid of a compensation system that rewarded unethical behavior. However, in its place, COLA entirely circumvents governmental transparency. It’s in place to keep legislators from being put in the difficult position of voting to raise their own salaries when the cost of living has decreased their real income. While great in concept, the public deserves the right to be able to cast judgment on their representatives…even if our judgment is sometimes a knee-jerk reaction.