Saturday, December 24, 2005

Federal Pay Raises 


Not that I didn’t intend to write a nice piece of holiday fluff this weekend, or more likely another mocking post about the ‘War on Christmas’, but I saw this story on WaPo this morning and felt compelled to comment.  Sometime back there was a vote on raising the minimum wage held in the senate.  I had commented on that earlier this year.

Here I have been sitting on vacation for about a day and a half now.  I have been loaded with Christmas cheer, doing a little last minute shopping for hepkitty, and generally being in a great mood, so an ‘I love the holiday season post wasn’t really out of line, till I read the WaPo story this morning.

As you can see by comparing the numbers I used in that previous post on minimum wage, the pay rates for those federal officials have change considerable. Even further, my numbers may have been older give the difference from the current ones.

Here is a quote with some new numbers:
Under the order, the annual salaries of Cabinet members will increase to $183,100 (up from $180,100). Members of Congress and federal district judges will be paid $165,200 (up from $162,100). The vice president, the speaker of the House and the chief justice will be paid $212,100 (up from $208,100), according to the president's order. Associate justices of the Supreme Court will be paid $203,000, up from $199,200 this year.

Okay, now lets dissect these numbers:

Under the order, the annual salaries of Cabinet members will increase to $183,100 (up from $180,100). – This means that Karl Rove and others in Bush’s bubble will now be paid $2000 more a year to lie to you, viciously attack and smear their opponents and try to covers their asses when they do things like commit treason and violate the constitution.

Members of Congress and federal district judges will be paid $165,200 (up from $162,100). – Meaning that $3100 a year more to quibble about minutia, change the rules behind each others backs, cut spending on tuition for underprivileged students, cut welfare for the poor, cut back on food stamps, give more money to the rich while increasing the national debt…  you know, I have to stop there otherwise this will go on forever.  In short that means congress has decided that they need $1,348,500 a year more, and that social programs deserve $39 BLLION a year less…

The vice president, the speaker of the House and the chief justice will be paid $212,100 (up from $208,100) – You can fill this one in for yourself.  What are we paying Dick Cheney, Denny “give me a sandwich!” Hastert and John Roberts $4000 more a year to do?

Associate justices of the Supreme Court will be paid $203,000, up from $199,200 this year. – Same as above.

Here is a link to the Office of Personnel Management.

I think they make this intentionally confusing to keep people from finding this info readily.  And again, I’m not an accountant or an economist, just some dude looking at the numbers.

Why do any of these folks, ignoring the lower end federal employees who are getting ‘regionally’ based raises whose biggest increase will be seen for those who work near metropolitan areas, why do they deserve theses kinds of raises in pay?  Through the article, you can see that they have addressed ‘regional concerns’ by increasing pay more for employees in one area over another.  This would seem to indicate that they understand the differences in living expenses region by region, but would that follow that they took into account for a cost of living increase for those regions since the last increase?  

Lets look at the notion of a ‘cost of living’ increase.  I get one every year from my employer, but I consider myself to be rather lucky.  My employer sees that things are more expensive, and further likes to reward effort.  I guess the same would be true for congress…  wouldn’t it?  Is it harder for them to get by on $162,100 than it was last year?  See I really don’t have their problems so I can’t say what it’s like trying to live on a measly $162,100 a year.  I can tell you what its like to live on 40k on down.  My first job in this urban area 7 years ago was a minimum wage job ($5.15 and hour), and Hepkitty and I pretty much lived together in a closet back then, round here they call it a ‘studio apartment’.  After years of hard work and study on both our parts, we are doing better, mindful of our funds, and no longer living in a closet.  How about Congress’s effort?  Are they being rewarded for their hard work this year?  Well they have been given to arguing late into the night, which is historically unusual for them.  Employees who stay late often get a special recognition…  but aren’t they OUR employees?  Did they just reward themselves with OUR money without talking to us?   I think my boss would fire me if I went into the accounting office and changed my pay rate without his permission. So in the interest of fairness, let’s take back the ability of the legislative branch to issue themselves raises. They can continue to see to the increases for regular federal employees, but I think that the electorate should be the ones that get to vote on the pay rates for elected and appointed officials.  I for one say that I would feel honored to reward the efforts of a hard working congressmen with a pay increase.  Darned proud really.

And wouldn’t it be cool having to hear a hard luck story from Tom Delay as to why he feels he has earned a raise this year?  Or a quaint sob story from Ted Stevens as to why he needs the extra money to take a ferry to that island that will not be getting a bridge this year.  I would love to hear George Bush’s pleading for help in putting food on his family. He says that his job is ‘hard work’ you know, and I would consider it seriously…  before reducing his pay radically.

Joking aside, lets take a look at things from the ‘budget hawk’ perspective.  It is just fiscal sanity on the part of the American voter to take part in helping congress with the harsh items they have to deal with when considering a budget for a new year.  They had to make some tough cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, student assistance, welfare and food stamps.  We will be paying congress $71,862,000 to make these tough cuts, cuts that could come back to bite them should the voters in ‘06 decide that they may not appreciate cuts to those programs. But hey, they were back into a corner, right?  What with the war in Iraq and the hurricanes and the associated recovery costs, times are tight.  Let’s give them a leg up and give them more resources to spend on important federal items… by cutting their pay to a nice round $100,000 a year.  That means we voters will only have to pay $43,500,000 to run that glorious house of representatives, and give them $28,362,000 in additional funds to work with when considering the budget.  Yeah, its not going to cover the Katrina recovery, or come close to restoring the money cut from welfare, Medicare, Medicaid and those other programs that I am sure they are all deeply saddened they had to cut funding to.

I think that’s a good start, but we can do more.  If we cap all federal salaries at $100,000 a year, I couldn’t even guess at the amount we could save and devote to pressing federal business.  I can’t find the current number on the president’s salary, but I can say quickly that we could say $300,000 more right there, with another $100,000 from the VP.  This is really win-win, and should be within our rights as a responsible employer to compensate our employees with respect to our bottom line.  We can save money, while still offering a generous earning potential to everyone in the legislative and executive branches.  So write your representative and tell them that you want to help them in these tight times of war and catastrophy, and help work us out of this crushing debt.  It’s a responsible and patriotic thing to do.

Have a good holiday, or a merry Christmas if you must.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?