Researcher and Writer in Washington, DC

Why members of Congress should get a raise, whether they deserve it or not

You’ve surely heard the old line, “The best Congress money can buy.” Typically, it’s said sardonically. In the classic formulation, it’s not your money doing the buying. It’s special interests and lobbyists forking over the dough. In exchange, they get the best Congress they can buy – for them.

But what if it were your money? How much should you, the taxpayers, be willing to pay? If you want a Congress that works for you, can you get it on the cheap?

The debate is not an academic one. House Democrats and Republican leaders have proposed boosting legislators’ pay by providing a cost of living adjustment of $4,500. The current annual salary of $174,000 has not changed since 2009. Adjusted for inflation, that amounts to a 16 percent decrease.

The basic case for a congressional pay raise is the same as for a raise at in any business. The more you pay, the more you can retain and attract the most talented people. Certainly, money is only one of many motivating forces. But a higher salary makes any job more appealing and more sustainable….(Read more)

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