In a surprise move, members of both the House and Senate have unanimously agreed to reduce their salaries by 50% if a new budget deal is not reached by April 1, 2013. The lower salary would remain in effect for one year. Together, from the steps of the Capitol Building, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House John Boehner announced the historic decision. According to historians, this is the largest self-instituted performance penalty in the history of the U.S. Congress and will save taxpayers approximately $46,545,000 in 2013. Senator Reid spoke of the necessity to institute this drastic measure:
"The effects of the sequester have in large part hurt the average American. However, even though we were responsible for the cuts, we in Congress have been immune to their effects. It is our gross mismanagement and utter failure as political leaders that have placed us in this position. It is therefore unconscionable that we continue to get paid large sums of money for doing such an inadequate job."Speaker Boehner agreed:
"In the NFL, eight of the thirty two head coaches, or 25% of the entire league’s head coaches were fired this off season because they did not do a good enough job. In one instance, a coach was fired for going 10-6, because it just wasn’t good enough. If your average American employee only showed up for work 126 times in a given year and got almost nothing accomplished, they would be fired immediately. Well, we’re not going to fire ourselves, but we are taking action."The agreement will reduce Congress salaries from $174,000 per year to a mere $87,000. This might cause some to be concerned whether the politicians will be able to afford necessities like food, housing and health care. Luckily they will still have their excellent benefit packages which cost taxpayers roughly $4.6 billion per year. Also noteworthy, though $87,000 per year barely seems like enough to live on, over 100 million Americans make less then $39,999 per year and over 72 million Americans earn less than $25,000 per year. So, while it will undoubtedly be difficult, it is possible to survive on so little. A larger concern is what members of Congress will do with their 229 free days each year. There will likely be unfortunate cuts to golfing trips to Pebble Beach, fuel for their yachts and private planes and $1500 per night hotel suites. Well, tough times requires tough sacrifices and we certain are living in troubled times.
Congress should be commended for taking this unprecedented and benevolent action. We should to take to our telephones and emails and thank them for finally getting it right. You can find the contact information for your State Senator and your district’s Representative at Open Congress.