Originally created 11/21/02

Congress' good deal

It may not be as good as winning the lottery, but getting a $5,000 pay raise for doing nothing is still a pretty good deal. However, it's not for you. It's for the people you pay to go to Washington to make laws for us to live by.

Yes, Congress just got another $5,000 pay raise, bipartisan of course. Here's how they rigged it:

In 1989 Congress made annual cost-of-living increases automatic unless lawmakers vote to turn it down. If such a vote is requested, it comes during debate of the spending bills. But in the House this year there was no such debate - members simply continued to fund government at current levels until the new Congress convenes in January.

This meant there could be no request for a pay boost vote, and without that the raise goes into effect in January. Legislators won't do the work they're sent to Washington to do, but they still make sure they get their pay hike.

The Senate at least did vote on the raise - 50-36 not to block it. Never mind how wrong it is for elected leaders to hike their pay when the economy and financial markets are slumping, job layoffs are escalating and federal budget deficits are rising.

With their undeserved pay raise, congressional members now make $155,000 a year. Nice work if you can get it. It's shenanigans like this that make the public so cynical about politics.

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