I think pretty much all of us would agree that any Congress that makes a habit of passing legislation that affects all citizens – but does not affect them – is not working towards the best interests of the public. And lordy is that the Rule, rather than the Exception!
This extends into many areas, but the two most galling examples are Congressional pay, and Congressional pensions upon leaving office. As of 2016, a freshman member of Congress receives a salary of $174,000/year. By comparison the average middle-class income for an American is roughly $55,000/year – and that’s actually been stagnating, because wage-growth for the average American is at its lowest in decades, and is currently only barely keeping up with the rate of inflation. Pensions for members of Congress are currently set at 80% of their full salary for the rest of their lives.
The way I see it, members of Congress are servants of the public – not their masters. Most of the legislation they pass will somehow affect the financial well-being of their constituents. Us. It makes sense that their own pay should directly reflect the financial well-being of the public.
This is why I plan to draft a Bill that tethers Congressional salaries to 150% of the average yearly salary of a U.S. Citizen, and re-calculated regularly.
Now, I do recognize that the extraordinary strains and pressures of public office deserve some extra compensation, but – the way it stands now at $174,000/year – it’s currently higher than 3 times the average American’s earnings. That’s not being very ‘representative.’
We need to bring that back into balance. We need to make it so that working to elevate the fortunes of ALL Americans is the only way for them to increase their own pay. 150% of the average American’s wages would put Congressional pay at $82,500/year. That’s more than sufficient for a comfortable lifestyle. And to keep up with that principle, every 5 years that average would be recalculated, and Congressional salary adjusted accordingly – 150% of the new average. And it would send them a message that THEY work for US. No free rides.
And to honor this point, if I am elected, on my first day in office I will immediately reduce my own salary to that of 150% the national yearly average. Even if I am not able to pass this into law (I’m expecting heavy resistance), I will continue to hold myself to that promise – both to honor my word, and to lead by example.