Minimum Wage for Politicians

Trey Smith

For the past 8 years Congress has seen fit not to raise the federal minimum wage. It seems that insuring that the lowest paid workers are able to eke out a meager existence is not high on the Congressional agenda. While a lot could be said about this sad non-development, what is far more informative is to take a look at the raises that OUR senators and representatives have approved for THEMSELVES.

According to CRS Report 97-1011 , for the years 1980 - 2005, our federal legislators have approved 17 pay hikes for each other representing an overall increase in their own compensation of 167%. Currently, each senator and representative is paid $162,100 per year ($13,508.33 per month). Taken altogether, taxpayers are putting out slightly more than $8.67 million per year.

Compare this to the fate of the federal minimum wage.  According to the US Department of Labor, Congress has only approved 6 rate hikes during the same period for an overall increase of 78% -- less than 1/2 of what they've approved for themselves! While our congressional legislators pull down over $13,000 per month, a full-time worker paid the federal minimum wage will only gross about $886.00 per month.

While the above statistics may seem startling, in the period from 1997-2005, they are even worse. During that period, the minimum wage has remained stagnant while Congressional pay has increased 7 TIMES! If we expressed this ratio as a baseball score, we'd say the Washington team whitewashed the "visitors" 7-0.

So, I ask you, what's wrong with this picture?

[Note: The citations provided come from Yes! Magazine.]

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Republicans don't think minimum wage is a valid idea. That's whats wrong with the picture.

  • bluelady (unverified)

    And how about those benefits? I wonder how quickly we'd have universal health care if Congress, its staff, and federally elected officials (Pres & VP) and patronage positions they control were excluded from coverage under federal health insurance plans.

    Let's give them an allowance -- say the average Walmart employer contribution toward health insurance -- and let them find coverage in the market place. Just to make sure that the market operates fairly and doesn't offer any sweetheart deals, details of coverage purchased would be public and you, if you liked, could buy into your representative's plan (same cost, same benefits).

  • Nicholas Chorey (unverified)

    With respect to the generous wages and increases that our elected officials have given themselves I wish that more would have been said about the fringe benefits and other benefits. I recently read where foreign interests seeking influence in Washington spent in the vicinity of 600,000,000 to get favorable legislation passed. I would like to acquire information regarding their retirement packages for themselves and spouses. My personal opinions are that all federal employees, hired and elected, should be added to the Social Security Program and their Health care package should be Medicare. Possibly then we would have more serious attempts to improve both programs.

  • scott (unverified)

    The voters should be the only ones to vote a pay increase for our representatives.

    Too much power in the hands of our elected officials keeps this type of action going on.

    You want to increase the min. wage? Why not eliminate the IRS and let the poor keep what they earn. Why have an income tax when the govt wastes half of what it gets?

    There is no reason that the 15% the fed gets from the income tax could not be cut by eliminating sections of the war machine and cutting the FAT paychecks of the politicians and the huge staffs they man.

    Again, the voters should be the only ones to vote a pay increase for our representatives.

    Always wanting a cost of living increase. . . ? How about getting a cost of living increase by lowering taxes? Clean house and make life better for the people in one fell swoop.

    Oh, I forgot, you hate the rich so all must suffer as you drag them around the room by the nose ring. (and here I thought you opposed the abuse of force?!?)

    And if we reduced the burden of wasted time and monies complying with the IRS (that can not be audited externally by the way!!!) we would make things much better for all.

    The IRS keeps one third of what it brings in, just to sustain itself.

    SO the fed gets 66% and the poor and uneducated get in a state of constant penalty for not complying with the newest version of the tax code.

    Time to make it stop.


    PS, How about eliminating the maximum wage in the form of blank checks to corporations and govt contractors. Subsidies much??? Save money, Vote Libertarain! Would that make you feel better about getting rid of the IRS?

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