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What Deficit? Congress Finds Money for Pay Raise,
Says Council for Citizens Against Government Waste


September 07, 2003

Washington, DC - The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) denounced the House of Representatives for Thursday's action increasing the salary of members of Congress by $3,400 to a total of $158,103 per year. Congress amended the law in 1989 to allow for automatic "cost of living" increases every year, unless there is a specific vote to cancel it. Fiscal 2004 will make five years in a row that Congress refused to turn down its pay hike.

"Members of Congress have the only job in the country whose occupants can set their own salary without regard to performance, profit, or economic climate," CCAGW President Tom Schatz said. "Clearly, members must think that money grows on trees. With a $480 billion deficit, the escalating cost of the war in Iraq, and a stagnant economy, Congress should be curbing spending, not lining their pockets at our expense."

Congressional Raise
©Sandy Huffaker, Cagle Cartoons
Sunday - September 07, 2003
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons

The 2.2 percent pay raise was included as part of the fiscal 2004 Transportation and Treasury Department Appropriations bill, along with a 4.1 percent raise for federal employees and military personnel. Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) sought a separate vote on the congressional pay raise, but was turned down by a vote of 240-173. The Senate has yet to vote on the bill, and the President has to sign the final version before the raise takes effect.

"Year after year, while millions of Americans have lost their jobs, members of Congress have rewarded themselves with more money for less work," Schatz continued. "What exactly are they rewarding themselves for? The primary purpose of Congress is to pass a budget. This year's budget was six months late, and the fiscal 2004 budget will not be completed by the start of the new year on October 1. This level of job performance would warrant termination in the private sector, not a salary increase."

According to CAGW, over the past six years, members of Congress have given themselves a total of $16,700 in raises, which is 58 percent more than the $10,300 a minimum wage employee would earn during an entire year of full-time work. Other congressional perks include: free outpatient care at certain hospitals; a special $3,000 tax deduction; frequent-flyer miles from government travel; free meals and vacations from lobbyists and business groups; access to first-class gyms and tennis courts; taxpayer subsidized life and health insurance; and a special pension program.

"This underserved pay raise is no surprise, as the 108th Congress has shown a voracious appetite for spending," Schatz concluded. "It goes to show how out of touch with reality politicians can be. They forget that their salaries are paid by taxpayers. Americans are being forced to tighten their belts - if they even have a job - yet members of Congress will have an extra $3,400 to do with as they please."

According to CAGW, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste is the lobbying arm of CAGW which is the nation's largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. Citizens Against Government Waste is dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.



Source of Release:

Citizens Against Government Waste
Web Site


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