One wonders how our "leaders" have the gall to raise their own salaries, while ignoring those at the other end. Ack!
Here is an editorial from the NY Times!
Earning That Congressional Raise
Congress has just chopped a week off what already is a notoriously skimpy work calendar so that lawmakers will have extra campaign time at home this fall. The Capitol will recess at the end of September, leaving a world of unfinished business. You’ll be relieved to know, however, that among the House items already seen to was a pay increase — 2 percent over the current base salary of $168,500.
Pay raises are a classic bit of passive-aggressive legislative behavior in Washington: they’re automatic, unless Congress takes a vote to block them. In the past 16 years, the two houses have passively accepted 11 of the cost-of-living raises while actively rejecting five.
Although we have always believed that lawmakers should draw decent salaries, it is hard to have patience with a body that allows its own pay to rise automatically while systematically stonewalling any increase in the national minimum wage. The private-sector workers who need a pay raise the most have been waiting nine years and counting for some kind of increase to offset the rising cost of living. But there has been no sign of mercy yet from the Republican leaders. They warn of raising “the first rung of the economic ladder” beyond a noble striver’s reach — as if that rung is securely anchored at $5.15 an hour.
For a family of three, the minimum wage of $10,700, set in 1997, is now more than $5,000 below the federal definition of poverty. In that same time, a lawmaker’s salary rose $31,600— better than 20 percent — while the purchasing power of a minimum-wage earner deteriorated by 20 percent.
Is it fair to make comparisons between working poor in the private sector and the lawmakers with power over their salaries? Congress would be wise to face that question before voters do. House leaders have thus far ducked it in blocking floor votes on the minimum wage (with no comparable hesitation about a tax break for estates left by the wealthy).
A rise in the minimum wage to $7.25 did get to the Senate floor, but fell short. Democrats vow to fight the Congressional raise unless poor workers finally get a boost. This is a debate well worth having before members of Congress hurry off to brag to voters of the job they’ve done.