Every year Congress sits back and allows itself to automatically accept an “automatic” pay raise. The mechanism is the COLA, or Cost of Living Adjustment. And every year I complain. Because I don’t want to ignore this self-serving conduct. Also because the congressmen keep coming up with more crazy arguments.
People say that congressmen hand out pork to special interests. Yes, and pay-raise-grabbing congressmen are one of those special interests. Now senators will be getting $158,000 a year, an increase of more than $3,000. The increase is “automatic.” But thanks to a few renegade colleagues the congressmen do have to show their colors each year anyway. This time the Senate had to vote 60-34 to reject a proposal to exempt senators from the COLA. And there were the usual incomprehensible rationales.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Republican, says, “I think that our representatives of government deserve a pay raise consistent with the work that we’ve produced.” Frist can’t mean that, not really. I would be happy to take him up on it but that means the congressmen owe the U.S. taxpayers something like 4 trillion dollars. Then there’s Ted Stevens, the Republican who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is the central nexus of pork distribution. “This is not a pay raise,” stipulates Stevens. “This is an increase that’s required by law.” Uh, sir. It isn’t required if you vote it down, is it? And who do you think is making U.S. federal law anyway? It’s not the lawmaking body on Mars.
This is Common Sense.Â I’m Paul Jacob.