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Over the decades, Senators and Congress Reps reaped special privileges, endorsements, and benefits upon themselves to stay in power, wield ever more power to enrich themselves, their friend, and cronies. It is time to restore the vision intended by the founders of this great nation!
A new slogan should be used in the drive to re-elect President Donald Trump:
“IT’S TIME FOR RESTITUTION; MAKE ARTICLE 1 GREAT AGAIN. Support the 2020 Congressional Reform Act.”
For that is the new act proposed by Trump, one designed to end the culture of gross entitlement that for many decades has infected politicians in Washington D.C. Taking a job as a public official, elected or otherwise, should be a privilege, a golden opportunity to give back to the greatest nation on Earth, not a license to feed at the public trough for the rest of their lives.
Since 2009, senators and representatives have generally made an annual salary of $174,000 while they are in office. Leaders make somewhat more—the speaker of the House makes $223,500; majority and minority leaders in the House and Senate make $193,400. Senators serve six-year terms, with no term limits. Members of the House serve for two years, again with no term limits.
They also are given generous allowances to pay staff and cover expenses such as office and travel expenses. For senators, the average allowance is $3,306,570. For representatives, it is generally about $900,000. An additional $3,000 a year is deductible for the living expenses they incur while they’re away from their home-base.
Congressmen are eligible for pensions as soon as they have served five years. To collect their full pensions, they must be at least 62, or at least 50 with 20 years of service. For example, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district, assumed office at age 29. If she serves until she is 49, the former Bronx bartender and waitress will be eligible for a full Congressional pension one year later. A sweet deal indeed if you can get it. The Atlantic magazine estimated that former House Speaker John Boehner received an $86,000 annual pension when he retired.
Congressional salaries and benefits have always been a controversial issue. Indeed, the Founding Fathers at first thought that the government did not need to compensate government members, who were typically well off financially.
In 1789, they changed their minds and members of the Senate and the House started to make $6 a day for each day they were in session, which was typically between four to five months a year, or something like 100 work days. That would give an annual salary of about $600. According to this reference, accounting for a average inflation rate of 1.47% per year between 1789 and today, $600 in 1789 would buy as much as $17,577 would in 2020. How times have changed! Even taking inflation into consideration, today’s Congressmen make about ten times what their forebears did.
As if their generous compensations were not enough, we still see corruption at all levels of government. On Monday, for example, WSYX, a Columbus, Ohio-based station and a ABC Television affiliate reported:
House (Ohio) Speaker Larry Householder and four associates were charged with racketeering in a scheme in which an Ohio utility is alleged to have sent $60 million in bribes to the men. That money was funneled through a company called Generation Now, a 501(c)(4) non-profit, in which donors don’t have to be revealed, leading to the term “dark money.”
The Constitution does not grant presidents, judges, senators, or congress representatives any special privileges, dowries, titles, or endowments. The Founding Fathers and the Constitution envisioned that citizen legislators serve their terms, perform their duties without payment or compensation, at the end of which, like the Roman statesman Cincinnatus, they would go home, back to their work, and with no rewards and no endowments.
Here are elements of President Trump’s new act:
1 / No Tenure / No Pension. Each Senator and each Congress-rep shall collect a fixed salary while in office, and shall receive no pay when they leave such office. No other perks or compensation are to be paid, granted, or awarded.
2 / Participation in the Social Security System. All funds currently in the Congressional Retirement Fund shall immediately transfer and aggregate with the general revenues of the Social Security Administration. After that, each Senator and Congress-rep shall participate in the Social Security System with the same rights, privileges, and obligations as all other US citizens.
3 / Retirement arrangements. Each Senator and Congress-rep, at its own cost and expense, shall participate in the retirement program of his choosing.
4 / Congress shall not vote themselves compensation increases. Congressional salaries and compensation shall be adjusted only on the same percentage basis and at the same timing as used by the Social Security Administration.
5 / Congress’s current Healthcare System is terminated. After that, each Senator and Congress-rep, at its own cost and expense, shall participate in the health care program of his choosing.
6 / Equal treatment under laws. Each Senator and Congress-rep, at its own cost and expense, shall have the same rights, privileges, and obligations and abide by all the laws imposed on the American people.
7 / Non-entanglement. All contracts and legal obligations made among and between Senators and Congressional reps, and with or without other entities, is made void.
History will record that it took an outsider, someone not part of the Bush, Clinton or Kennedy families who expected to rule by default, to attempt to bring the United States Congress back to the vision intended by the founders of this great nation. It’s about time.
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