Local News Since 1890 Now Online!

Posts Tagged ‘congressional’

27th Amendment: Congress gets paid no matter what.

In Economy, history, National News, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized on October 1, 2013 at 9:57 pm


By Gery L. Deer

Did you know that the 27th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States prohibits Congress from changing its own pay? The exact wording is, “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.”

congress 1Although the amendment was submitted to the states for ratification way back in 1789, it was not adopted until 1992, more than 200 years later. It was conceived to prevent the legislative branch from giving itself unwarranted and outrageous increases in pay, but it also works in the reverse. So, according to the constitution, congress gets paid, no matter what happens.

Amid a government shutdown unnecessarily created by a congress that simply refuses to compromise (on either side), it is thoroughly reprehensible that they are not also deprived a paycheck. Compensation certainly outshines performance, particularly by congressional leaders.

According to an article published in 2011 by the Center for Public Integrity, “No legislator – living or dead – has been paid a higher salary by the taxpayer than Speaker Boehner.”

The article notes that the Speaker earns the highest annual salary of all his peers, at $223,500. On the other side of the dome, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other congressional leaders are paid much less; just $193,400 per year.

Poor folks; It’s hard not to feel bad for them. Really, it must be terrible to have to struggle by on a measly couple-hundred-thousand a year. Yes, that was sarcasm.

There should be some way to cut Congress’s pay in midterm when they’re not living up to expectations and actually doing more harm than good. If they had to work a normal job, the current level of unsatisfactory performance would have gotten them all fired a couple of years ago.

con1Apparently, the only way to do have any financial impact on these people is to amend the 27th Amendment, allowing for congressional pay reductions at the will of the people. Administering such a procedure would be something of a logistical and legal challenge, but working it out would pay off in the end.

Direct and immediate job performance accountability, like everyone else endures at work, might actually motivate congressional leaders to the action of the people. At the moment, the only action they are taking is that which gives them the most spots on the Sunday morning news shows.

While hard-working government employees and their families go without pay, some struggling to put food on the table due to recent sequestrations, congressional big wigs luxuriate in the perks of the office, content in their jobs and in the foolhardiness and shockingly short memories of their constituencies. While there may be a few normal people on Capitol Hill, they are greatly outnumbered and hopelessly meek-voiced. A whisper from the back of the hall is nothing to the roar from the leadership seats.

Congress is currently enjoying its lowest approval rating ever, 87 percent of Americans disapprove of Congress’s performance according to an October 1st CNN poll. But until the American people say, “enough is enough,” this pointless bickering over the country’s finances will never cease. It’s as if the House and Senate are like an old married couple arguing over the checkbook register and who spent too much on the new blender they both needed.

Ridiculous filibusters and other Washington-style temper tantrums accomplish nothing, except to secure free press by presidential hopefuls no one has ever heard of now clambering for the spotlight. But, if members of Congress suddenly knew their pay would be cut and their jobs were in danger – now, not two years from now – they might make some effort to straighten all this out.

Until the 27th Amendment is amended, however, every single ineffectual member of congress will continue to collect their overstuffed paycheck. It’s time to show these people how the rest of America has to live because they clearly have no idea.


Super Committee Failure Not Surprising

In Business, Economy, Jobs, National News, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized on November 22, 2011 at 12:42 am

By Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines

President Obama announced this week the abject failure of the so-called congressional Super Committee, which had originally supposed to hammer out a bi-partisan deal to cut the deficit by a whopping $1.2 trillion. Following the announcement, the president told reporters, “Despite the broad agreement that exists for such an approach, there are still too many Republicans in Congress that have refused to listen to the voices of reason and compromise that are coming from outside of Washington.”

Another typical Obama move; when in doubt, blame the other side. It seems the president has forgotten the definition of the word, “compromise,” wherein both sides need to give and take. They must not teach that concept at Harvard Law.

By definition, a committee is a group of people with differing ideas who are charged to work together towards a common goal. Whether it is made up of government officials or members of the local parent-teacher organization, committees generally produce more problems than they solve. Super-size the typical ineffectiveness of any committee, particularly one made up of bickering, self-aggrandizing members of congress, and the result is at minimum counterproductive and at most disastrous.

Given the poor history of compromise between the Democrats and Republicans in recent years, any attempt at a cooperative group was doomed to failure before it was commissioned. Unfortunately, congressional representatives are far more concerned with gaining political points and winning the day than solvingAmerica’s debt problems.

With the next election barely 11 months away, Republicans are firmly against pretty much anything the Democrats have proposed in the way of budget cuts, primarily because most plans involve tax increases. Conservative committee members insist that higher taxes will increase the burden on the average citizen and cause the country’s economy to backslide.

So what will happen next? Since the committee was unable to meet the deadline for the deficit reduction plan, programs like Medicare will experience automatic cuts in funding. Payments to Medicare providers, for example, will be cut by 2 percent across the board by 2013. Government sources state, however, that expenditures to beneficiaries of the program will be unaffected.

Additionally, the affect on general economic growth is, at this point, incalculable. As the country’s debt rises, it’s overall fiscal worth declines. As an example, as news of the super committee’s ineffectiveness spread over the last several days, Wall Street experienced general overall losses, with the Dow, down, 248 points on Monday.

Inaction on the part of the committee only serves to reinforce the idea that neither Congress nor the West Wing is up to current economic challenges. So far nothing has been done to even encourage long-term business and financial growth and spur job creation. Temporary fixes are not going to carry the country through a recession that is constantly on the verge of resurgence.

And, while the White House is responsible for pushing bad programs onto the Democrats in Congress and leveraging future cooperation to get them approved, it’s up to the legislature to determine the benefits, or the lack thereof, to their constituents. Apparently, common sense is not part of the job descriptions inWashington. Only those capable of double-dealing, back-room politics and cold-heartedness need apply.

Considering all of that, at the end of the day, each and every bad decision made by government officials are actually the final responsibility and fault of the American people because they were elected by the short-sighted, easily coerced voter. Winston Churchill said, “Democracy is the worst form of government; except for all the rest.”

He couldn’t have been more correct. A government by the people has a pitfall for every promise. As long as Americans keep sending the same kinds of self-serving, greedy, power-hungry people toWashington, positive change is highly unlikely.

Gery L. Deer is an independent business writer and columnist based in Jamestown, Ohio. Read more at http://www.deerinheadlines.com