Congress, White House get full pay during sequester

Even if the sequester shuts down much of the federal government, including your Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid payments, and unemployment benefits, for starters, unlike other federal employees the salaries of members of Congress and the President will not be in jeopardy.  Their salaries won’t be cut.

Isn’t that convenient? Not only does the DC political class get the best government-subsidized health insurance, and perks that haven’t existed in decades for working Americans, they also have nothing to worry about when it comes to the sequester.

This is yet another example of why DC politics is broken.

Senior politicians in Washington have nothing to lose by being extremists. Sure they might have to listen to a few complaints from the 99% about longer lines at the airport, or maybe additional people being out of work, but for them life is good.  They live in a city where property values didn’t drop that much during the past decade, and have actually been increasing since January of 2009.  Life as a senior politician in Washington, DC is pretty good, in addition to creating a false of sense of prosperity.

How many Americans can rest comfortably at night knowing that they have government-subsidized healthcare? How many friends do you have that enjoy luxurious retirement plans? Such easy-living retirement plans have been dead in the US for decades, unless you’re part of the political class.

And perks continue if you’re part of that group. Everything that’s gone away since the tide turned during the Reagan years still lives in Washington.

We shouldn’t expect answers to tough problems like healthcare and the budget when politicians in Washington have no skin in the game.

Republicans and their cronies on Wall Street are constantly talking about how we have to tighten our belts – but they mean us, not them.  They want cuts to our health and retirement benefits, not to their corporate welfare.  In fact, the most recent fiscal cliff deal included over $200 billion in corporate gifts.  I didn’t see a lot of gifts for the rest of us.  They get the bail outs, we get the cuts.

Since the GOP, and far too many Democrats, like to babble on about the benefits of the free market, let’s introduce the free market to Washington, DC.  Make political Washington get its own health insurance on the open market like the rest of us.  And when the government shuts down, make them face the same cutback in services, and benefits, and salaries as everyone else in the country.

The problem would be solved in minutes if political leaders in Washington had to suffer the consequences of their own inaction.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/sharkfang Mike Mayors

    Funny that when it comes to congressional pay cuts, look the Constitution! Can’t do that! See, there’s an amendment for that! But when it comes to extrajudicial assassinations of American citizens, drones, and Americans’ right to privacy? Oh that’s ok, we’re fighting the bad guys. Since both Congress and the President have thoroughly wiped their ass with our Bill of Rights I don’t see the big deal in ignoring the 27th Amendment – at least just this time. Or am I the only one that finds it ironic that the Constitution never comes up for debate on things that actually matter?

  • lilyannerose

    I doubt very many of those Washington Reps rely on just their salaries.

  • TheOriginalLiz

    We’re just another empire ruled by a corrupt aristocracy. Boyars, Cardinals, Nobles, Politicians … same old same old

  • Bill_Perdue

    Like most comments by liberals, it’s not worth anything.

    Why do you people bother. You’re Whigs, historical refuse.

    Get used to it.

  • SkippyFlipjack

    for what it’s worth, I always thought Michael Jordan was too hard on you.

  • http://www.intoxination.net intoxination

    However, if they would start cutting the salaries of Congressional staffers. That isn’t protected by the Constitution and would require members of Congress to do more of their own work.

  • SkippyFlipjack

    btw the median net worth for senators is in the $3 million range, for the house around $1 million, so it’s not like having “skin in the game” would impact most of them at all.

  • Bill_Perdue

    The central problem is that the government is run by and for the rich. There is no possibility of reforming their government enough to end their wars, their massive unemployment and poverty and their determined attacks on the Bill of Rights.

    Far from the possibility of more reforms, they are now dismantling the reforms like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and the voting Rights Act. Under Carter, Reagan, the Bushes, Clinton and Obama they’ve already dismantled regulatory laws and agencies and in the process created the current Depression and escalated the degradation of the environment. Clinton was far and away the worst of the lot – DADT, DOMA, NAFTA, much less welfare and many more cops and the deregulation of barriers that had kept predatory banks in line.

    That is not going to change short of the victory of a campaign for revolutionary changes that leads to the creation of a workers government, one run by and for workers.

    There are no more options. That’s why the labor left is renewing their effort to create a Labor Party and break from dependence on Democrats and Republicans who are active enemies of workers. “The Corporations Have Two Parties, Now What?” “… the labor movement is back to facing familiar reality. That would be our relative powerlessness in the political arena, symbolized by ongoing party bickering and horse-trading that have nothing to do with the needs or desires of the 99%. How do e reverse this powerlessness? Lately you may have a heard co-worker, or even yourself, muttering “We need our own political party.” http://www.labornotes.org/blogs/2013/02/corporations-have-two-parties-now-what

  • SkippyFlipjack

    You might find a different expression than “skin in the game” since that’s the B.S. argument conservatives use regarding voters whose income is such that they don’t pay federal income tax.

  • lynchie

    I recall various congressman and even the president say that the economy was tough and we all had to share the pain. Except of course the congressman and the 1%. We are expected to take our medicine for the good of the country and our fellow Americans. Funny how that works, their pension and income is guaranteed. We of course are subject to their tinkering on health care, SS and a myriad of other thing, If any one group has entitlements it is the Congress Americans so revile, yet they are immune to our pleading for a little consideration but let one banker or stock broker whine about their staggering incomes or their minimal taxes on that income and these same incompetent fucks jump on the we have to bail them out, guarantee bonuses for a job poorly done, or we can’t keep their expertise without high compensation. Tell that to the people working in Walmart who are prevented from organizing because the Walton’s might have to worth a few hundred dollars less. Tell that to college grads who can’t even get a job at McD’s because they are also competing for the same job with their mother or father who has been unemployed for a year or two. Tell that to the families who have lost their homes because they were lied to by the banks and mortgage companies. Tell that to the people living in their car or van. Tell that to the people who have just plain given up. I am so sick and tired of hearing about trickle down and the shared pain. The only thing that trickles down is a little squirt of urine every time i see these overpaid, arrogant, motherfuckers on tv talk about cutting SS and Medicare because they have to with no thought of the staggering amounts of money already stolen from the treasury and pissed away in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Yeah it is our fault not theirs, it is our bad decisions not theirs. Yeah sell that bag of shit to someone else.

  • http://heimaey.us/ jim morrissey

    That’s a good point. Still wish there were term limits though.

  • Naja pallida

    I don’t think anything could be done at the state level. Congress votes on its own pay rate, raises and benefits packages. Due to the 27th Amendment, their salary could not be changed this Congress. Anything they passed wouldn’t go into effect until the next Congress, but they could change benefits and retirement packages outside of their salary any time they wanted to. They could also change lobbying and campaign law so that politicians weren’t just sitting around soaking up huge amounts of outside cash regardless of their Congressional salary. They could also cut their staff budgets without much fuss, if they were actually serious about it. Each Representative has about a million dollar a year staff, give or take. Senators nearly twice that. Why does each and every member of Congress get their own press secretary, their own legislative council (usually more than one), as well as multiple legislative and executive assistants? Seems like a lot of overlap and extra people, when those jobs could be narrowed down and even shared among Representatives. I mean, how busy could one Representative’s press secretary possibly be that he couldn’t do the job for two or three other Reps at the same time?

  • rerutled

    Actually, it’s a wise decision to insulate political decisions from the
    ability of those making those decisions to feed themselves and their
    families. I would hate to think about what kind of laws could be enacted by merely starving Congress into submission.

  • nicho

    And they know that, which is what makes them so arrogant.

  • Joneses

    Since majority of Congress, ie, GOPERS, are basically not doing what is expected of them like ummmmmm getting the American economy back on its feet, I’ll say they should be fired (impeached). Take away their pay and benefits and if they apply for unemployment only give them about 6 weeks and tell them to go out and find a job because as they say, the jobs are out there and a family of
    four can survive off of minimum wage and if you get sick go to the ER.
    I know I’m dreaming, but in reality, overall, the GOPERS will be hurting their own constituents but alas they are soooooooo blinded, yes of course, they will blame O, well maybe 60%. Dems to pick up at least 40%.

  • Drew2u

    Is this something that can be passed at the state level or would something need to be federally enacted or constitutionally amended?

  • http://www.facebook.com/anita.h.phillips.5 Anita Henley Phillips

    Amend the amendment. Not right the pain should be shared. ESPECIALLY by the ones who CAUSED it!

  • Naja pallida

    Part-time? You are being exceedingly generous. The House decided to pack it in at somewhere around 2 in the afternoon yesterday. Not even a full day’s work. If you could call having to sit in the chamber and once in a while get up to cast a vote, whether you know anything about the issue being voted on or not, as work. The majority of Congresspeople never write bills, never get up and make speeches on the floor. When they do have to explain themselves to their constituents, it is usually in a pretty controlled environment that enables them to escape at the earliest convenience. Campaigning and soaking up cash is their job, and that’s what they have a nearly million dollars a year staff – each – for. Calling it work, even part-time work, is an insult to working Americans. All the extra little perks for being a member of Congress need to be taken away. Return it to the time when people who were there wanted to be there because they felt an obligation to serve their country, not just serving themselves by soaking up campaign donations and living a life way beyond the means of the vast majority of Americans.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I see this more as a 1% vs 99% issue than mere politics.

    The 1% (or, more accurately, the 0.01%) are never asked to give up anything. In fact, every ‘solution’ proposed for the latest Shock Doctrine crisis ends up enriching the PBCs (Plutocratic Bastard Class) even more.

    But as Rerutled points out, it’s in the Constitution, that neither the Congress’s nor the President’s pay can be changed during their current term of office. On the other hand, there’s nothing in the Constitution that says Congress is entitled to their ridiculously short working weeks and frequent recesses, an especially egregious situation when there’s an urgent situation (of their own creation) that needs dealing with.

    To them, this really is nothing more than a game. And we’re all the pawns up for sacrifice.

  • http://www.facebook.com/anita.h.phillips.5 Anita Henley Phillips

    Doesn’t make it right.

  • benb

    All those civilian workers on all those military bases in all those Red States are gonna get furlowed. Many are family members of serving military. You know, two small kids, husband’s in Afghanistan and the wife loses her job at the BX. Local Republican congressman holds a town hall & tries to convince her that it’s Obama’s fault, that her unemployment is helping the Country.

  • rerutled

    It’s Constitutionally required that neither Congress nor the President can have their salaries changed during their terms. For the President, it’s Article 2, Section 1 Clause 7. For Congress, it’s the 27th Amendment. So, it’s not politics so much as the Constitution.

  • nicho

    OK — lock ‘em all in the Capitol until it’s over. Nothing but baloney sandwiches and water. No telephone. No television. No face time on TV. No internet. No booze. No access to their mistresses, boy toys, or hookers. Then we’ll see how long it takes them to come to a conclusion. I’m guessing about an hour.

  • Drew2u

    They also get health insurance while only being part-time workers. I wish I could get $75/hr and full health coverage for only working part-time.

  • http://heimaey.us/ jim morrissey

    Politicians primarily care about themselves first. There are a few exceptions, of course, but what an ugly lot they are.

  • Peter

    We were in trouble as a nation when Congress enacted provisions to grant themselves “retirement plans”. Welcome to the working? world of “professional” politicians.

  • S1AMER

    Okay, let’s not get too cute here: The Constitution says their pay can’t be cut, so of course they’re legally immune from the sequester. That’s not to say that most of them aren’t worthless, only that the old canard about “how come they get paid when I get screwed?” is, whether used by Democrats or Republicans, a load of overcooked nonsense.

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