As this holiday week comes to an end, there was plenty for the nation’s lawmakers to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Their US Congressional Salaries and Benefits:
The current salary (2015) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year, which is more than three times higher than the average private-sector salary of $51,986. Based on the congressional records of the past 3 sessions, if they were paid by what they produce… they owe the taxpayers back!
During the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin considered proposing that elected government officials not be paid for their service. Other Founding Fathers, however, decided otherwise.
From 1789 to 1855, members of Congress received only a per diem (daily payment) of $6.00 while in session, except for a period from December 1815 to March 1817, when they received $1,500 a year. Members began receiving an annual salary in 1855, when they were paid $3,000 per year.
Members of Congress are eligible to receive the same annual cost-of-living increase given to other federal employees. The raise takes effect automatically on January 1 of each year unless Congress, through passage of a joint resolution, votes to decline it.
As it is for all other federal employees, congressional retirement is funded through taxes. Members of Congress who serve at least 5 years are eligible to receive a full pension for life.
Members of Congress are also provided with an annual allowance intended to defray expenses related carrying out their congressional duties, including “official office expenses, including staff, mail, travel between a Member’s district or state and Washington, DC, and other goods and services.”
Many members of Congress retain their private careers and other business interests while they serve. Also, there is currently no limit on the amount of non-salary income members can retain from their investments, corporate dividends or profits.
Capitol Hill Conveniences
Members of Congress have members-only parking spaces, elevators, dining rooms and exercise facilities to which all legislators — past and present — enjoy lifetime access. Not only are members of the House of Representatives treated to their own exclusive gym, but it also comes with flat-screen TVs, a swimming pool, a sauna and stream room, and paddle-ball and basketball courts.
Members of Congress fly free between their home states and Washington, D.C., paid for with taxpayer money. What’s really unique is that lawmakers are afforded the ability by airlines to book themselves on multiple flights without being charged multiple times because of their very liquid schedules. Whenever lawmakers decide to show up for a flight, they are also guaranteed free parking at all airports.
Weakened insider trading restrictions
Despite passing the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, perhaps known better as the STOCK Act in 2012, Congress gutted the primary disclosure component earlier this year. This means they don’t have to publicly disclose their trades and potential insider knowledge. It is incredible to me that we have people who are “hired” to work FOR us but who actually have the nerve to exempt themselves from the laws they pass for the rest of us.
Up to 239 days off
According to the congressional calendar, there are 126 congressional sessions on the docket without a single five-day work week, leaving members of Congress with 239 days to work outside of Congress. Members of Congress also get the entire month of August off, get two weeks around Easter off, and aren’t scheduled to work a single weekend. Not only was serving in Congress never meant to become a lifetime job… their own docket proves it isn’t even intended to be a full time job!
Congress receives health-care subsidies under Obamacare
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, individuals are required to have health insurance or face a penalty that increases each year through 2016. Congress, however, gets a large portion of its health insurance subsidized by the public on Obamacare’s health exchanges despite making more than four times the poverty level. What makes them better than me when they supposedly work for me? We the people!
A better retirement plan
According to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, the average private sector Social Security recipient is going to net $15,000 a year in benefits, while a public workers’ pension will average around $26,000. By contrast, a retired member of Congress who’s served 20 years will average $59,000 annually in Social Security benefits. In addition, Congress members (actually all federal workers) have access to the Thrift Savings Plan, a 401(k)-like investment vehicle with fees of just 0.03%. To put that into context, this means just $0.27 in fees for every $1,000 for the Thrift Savings Plan, compared with the average 401(k), which charges around $5 in fees for every $1,000! Over a lifetime, that can mean thousands less in fees for congressional employees compared to public- and private-sector workers. This and other issues will never change until we the American people REGAIN CONTROL OF OUR GOVERNMENT, who is and has been out of control for way too long.
Should a member of Congress die while in office, the surviving family of that member would be entitled to receive at least one year’s worth of salary, or a minimum of $174,000 for rank and file legislators, and more for those in leadership positions. In contrast, family members of soldiers in the United States armed forces who perish while defending our country domestically or overseas are entitled to $100,000 in military death benefits, as well as funeral and burial expenses.
A $1.2 million to $3.3 million allowance
Members of the House receive a $900,000 annual allowance for a staff as well as a $250,000 budget for travel and office expenses, paid for entirely by taxpayers. Each senator, on the other hand, gets a budget close to $3.3 million based on figures from the Congressional Research Service. I’m not aware of any business out there where all employees equally get at least $1.2 million in expenses at their disposal. Just another example of career politicians taking good care of themselves and their employees with lavish pay packages and perks at our expense. If only they cared as much about their oath and constitutional duties as well.
Members are allowed to deduct up to $3,000 a year from their federal income tax for living expenses while they are away from their home states or congressional districts.
And last but not least: No legislator – living or dead – has been paid a higher salary by the taxpayer than Speaker Boehner. No wonder John Boehner cried like a baby when he became Speaker of the House and whenever he spoke of his role. It was the one million per year he will receive for 5 years after he leaves!!! Set for life!! Are we the dumbest people in the world?
While in office, the Ohio Republican received the top annual salary in Congress: $223,500. His Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D – Nev., and other congressional leaders are paid much less,$193,400 per year.
The House speaker’s taxpayer-funded perks don’t stop when he leaves office. Like all members of Congress who have held office for at least five years – Boehner has been in the House since 1991 and entitled to a generous pension.
But Boehner gets an additional benefit: Up to $1 million per year for up to five years after he leaves the office to “facilitate the administration, settlement and conclusion of matters pertaining to or arising out of” his tenure as speaker of the House, according to a little known law. Wake-up, people! Congress and POTUS should not be permitted to pass laws for the benefit of themselves!
This provision has and continues to allow other former Speakers like Denny Hastert, R – Ill., to rack up more than $997,000 during the course of three years to document materials related to his time in office, and “The archiving continues to go on,”! But, it’s not just Boener… look at the Senate majority leader perks… look at what former presidents get a year to fund an office for themselves… it’s not just Congress that is raping the people. All three branches of government are equally guilty.
The federal government has become a cancer destroying this once great country. They are allowed to make laws that break the law, ignore the constitution, and at this point and time, become a Dictatorship – not a Government.
The only reform that can possibly change this corrupt situation in D.C. (District of Corruption) is to limit their terms in office. The president, most governors, numerous state legislatures and other offices are term-limited, why not congress?
It’s high time hard working taxpayers deserve better. So, the next time you hear politicians refer to themselves as “public servants”– throw-up in your hands… and clap for them!