As the Federal budget circus continues to run around in three rings, I would like to revisit a proposal I made in the book. This proposal of mine would reduce costs to taxpayers by cutting the pay of a specific group of government employees. The public collectively hates this particular group of government employees even more strongly than we loathe the IRS, so there would be no public outcry. Unfortunately this pay cut would be nearly impossible to enact, because I am proposing to enact a pay cut for a group of people who are able to give themselves an annual raise without even a voice vote. They are some of the only people in the world who can literally decide their own salary. They are the Congress of the United States.
I believe that every elected Congressperson should be paid precisely the federal minimum wage per hour that they are actually at work, and not a penny more.
That’s right: Members of Congress should be paid minimum wage on an hourly basis.
People get all bent out of shape that the barely-middle-class salary that we pay our teachers is somehow too high, when here we are forking out millions of dollars a year to provide members of Congress with salaries that are four or five times higher than a teacher’s salary. That’s right: in order to get paid as much as a member of Congress gets, you would otherwise have to be a doctor, a lawyer, or the CEO of a profitable company.
Whenever they are polled, the American public overwhelmingly agrees that Congress’s job performance is appalling. Yet members of Congress are public employees; so why do we reward their poor performance with executive-level compensation?
We should not be giving CEO-level salaries to people who spend half their time out campaigning and fundraising. Why pay them for a job they aren’t even doing? Let them work for minimum wage, and see how they like earning the same income as millions upon millions of their constituents. Just make sure to simultaneously crack down on corruption, because you know they would try to cheat.
This year’s budgeting circus, starring Ringmaster Paul Ryan and the acrobatic stuntman “I’ll jump through any hoop the Republicans ask me to jump through” President Obama, is worse drama than daytime television. As was discussed on this blog previously, Ryan and his circus clowns propose to enact yet another tax cut for the wealthiest of the wealthy; and they want to pay for it by cutting even more social services: Medicare, Medicaid, you name it, they want it cut. They branded their package as “deficit reduction” but a report from the nonpartisan Center for Budget Analysis shows that the budget proposal is not even deficit neutral: it actually increases the deficit even more.
Advantages and considerations of paying Congress minimum wage:
- Paying Congress minimum wage would reduce the budget deficit by the amount of their collective salary cuts.
- Paying them minimum wage might make Congresspeople more sympathetic to the conditions of the working class
- On the other hand, reducing their salaries might not actually affect the Congresspeople much, because most of them are millionaires anyway.
- Save the Federal budget even more by eliminating perks and benefits for Congresspeople! Congressional expense accounts, such as flying back and forth for campaigning, should not be paid by taxpayers. Minimum wage workers have to pay for their own transportation, their own lunch, and their own health care. Members of Congress should be subject to the same personal funding mechanisms as the general public. Earning minimum wage, and supporting their families, many Congresspeople would probably qualify for food stamps, if they don’t mind waiting in line at the DSHS. If they don’t like it, they can improve living conditions for the working class.
I know, I know, I’m dreaming. The only way a proposal like this could possibly get enacted into law is by voting every single sitting member of Congress out of office and replacing the lot of them with new politicians who have pledged to enact legislation ending executive pay levels for members of Congress. If we could do that, oh what a better world this would be.