How many times have you heard an exchange similar to this at work:
The boss will be out of the office for a few days and tells an employee she’ll be in charge during the absence. When this information is relayed to other employees, someone will good-naturedly exclaim that this means raises for everyone.
It seems one of the more common complaints workers have is that they’re underpaid. For most, the solution is periodic raises that come from good job performance, more training or more education.
That’s not the case for members of Congress. They have a better deal than most taxpayers.
Since 1989, congressional raises have been on auto-pilot, coming every year unless the members vote against them. This year’s cost-of-living raise was approved as part of a civil service pay hike in the House on Wednesday.
Rep. Jim Matheson, a Democrat from Utah, was the only member speaking against the raise.
“Now is not the time for members of Congress to be voting themselves a pay raise,” he said. “Let us send a signal to the American people that we recognize their struggle in America’s economy.”
The House rebuffed his attempt at a procedural move that would require a direct vote on congressional raises separate from the larger bill.
In a time of massive deficits, increased spending on national security and the possibility of a protracted U.S. mission in Iraq, Congress should be setting an example of fiscal responsibility.
Instead, members are sticking to their old habits of reckless spending and expecting the rest of us to pick up the tab.