Student opposes Washington pay increase

Though I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not nearly as knowledgeable about politics as I should be, I do try to follow the ever-streaming drama that pours out of Washington whenever I can.  And, like many Americans, I always enjoy getting upset with those who govern us.

The debt ceiling fiasco several weeks ago was one example, as Republicans and Democrats ‘bargained’ until the last second before ‘saving the day’ in the 11th hour with a compromise.  The brevity of foresight by Congress was made clear as the U.S. credit rating was nevertheless downgraded, and markets around the world plunged.  The Dow experienced one of its most unstable weeks in history.

Not surprisingly, the congressional approval rating hovers at around 17 percent today, making the federal government the worst rated industry in the United States, according to a new Gallup survey.

Given this info, the latest news to come from Washington comes as quite a surprise.  It was announced Monday that several members of Congress don’t think they are getting paid enough.

Steve Southerland, R-Fla., was recently reported as saying, “If you think this job pays too much … I’ll just tell you.  This job don’t mean that much to me.”

Sean Duffy, R-Wis., and Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., are among other representatives who think that higher wages should be established.

Members of Congress receive an annual salary of $174,000.  In addition, House members are given nearly $250,000 each year for office expenses, including travel, while most Senators collect even more.

While House Representatives and Senators receive the same health care plan as other federal workers, they also collect both a 401k and a pension.  Pensions can equate to around $60,000 a year.  The median household income in the U.S. was $49,945 from 2008-09, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Members of Congress only work about half of the year.  Special breaks are delegated for campaigning.  If a congressman or woman is not up for re-election, this time is simply extra vacation.  In contrast,  82 percent of employed persons worked on an average weekday in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There is no mistaking the importance of the role our congressional men and women play in leading our country.  Quality bills are passed every single day. Nevertheless, it is the right and duty of the citizens to keep those in power in check.  At a time when unemployment hovers around 9 percent, this new request for increased congressional wages hardly seems justifiable.

Those wanting more money may need to be reminded that it is the American people they have been elected to serve.