Restructure Congressional Pay
“Raise congressional pay from current level to $500,000 per year for members of the House of Representatives and $1,000,000 for United States Senators; Pay them as independent contractors, eliminate all benefits, subsidies and other expenses paid by taxpayers. They will be personally responsible for all of their own legislative and personal expenses without reimbursement, including the hiring of their own employees from this day forward and must abide by all laws and regulations which apply to other business activities.”
I know what you’re thinking – he’s had some good ideas, I might even vote for him for king, but now he’s lost it. Those freeloading dictators are paid too much now. Hold on a minute and follow the logic.
Regardless of whether we ever get term limits (later) we need to try to make congress more accountable. Today they get paid about $200,000 or so a year in salary, more in benefits, so well over $200K per year – and they also receive a decent pension after only five years in office.
In addition, they have franking (mailing) privileges which allows them to mail three pieces of mail to each residential address within their district every year. Millions of free pieces of mail a year to try to keep their names on our kitchen tables. We pay for that now.
They also can hire up to 18 staffers at pay rates anywhere from the 30K to over $100K so it amounts to about $800,000 or so. We also pay for their offices. The total each congressman costs the country is several million dollars a year.
Senators cost even more, so let’s pay them more.
The suggestion is to eliminate all the benefits and pay them as contracted professionals. Pay each member of the House of Representatives 1 million dollars per term, or $500K per year to run their office, and that’s it. They will be afforded only one luxury, their office in the Capital Building, that will be their only perk. It is already there and it would be convenient and more efficient for them to be together rather than scattered throughout the city and suburbs. They must pay to operate any other offices themselves; including any in their home districts. Rent might be $2,000 a month or it could be $10,000, or more – whatever level of lavishness they want it to be they can have, but they also have to pay for it. If they need another office in their home district, they have to pay for that too. If they want furniture, they have to buy it themselves. If they want to hire anyone, a nephew, a stupid son, an idiot friend, they can pay to hire them. They can be as nepotistic as they like, it will only hurt their own bottom line. If they want to do mass mailings, they can do them, but they have to pay for them just like we do.
If they want a pension, they can fund it the same way any other businessman does. They want health insurance, they have to buy it. Welcome to the world of small business. Maybe this will help them understand how the real economy actually works – instead of - you know – theoretically how it should work.
We can pay congressmen as self employed subcontractors, which is what one could argue they really are under the tax code anyway. They will file a Schedule C with their individual tax return (or maybe form an S-corporation) and deduct their own business related expenses just as the rest of us in small business have to do.
They can contribute or not to their pension plan, but they must contribute to Social Security as we do, with the same rules both for mandated social security and pensions limitations. They do contribute to social security now, and have been since 1984, just reiterating the importance of being required to do what the rest of us have to do. While were at this, they can not make any law which does not apply to themselves, or exempt themselves from any law that applies to the rest of us.
This is not just a cost cutting proposal. Congressmen would likely argue that their actual operational cost is but a drop in the gigantic bucket compared to the national budget. Sure it is. But there never existed any single rain drop that considered itself the cause of the flood. Some congressman might actually like the idea, those few who are businessmen should be able to take home more money to their families – if they run their office(s) in a businesslike rather than government manner. The others can learn to be better businessmen.
In others words, lets entice our legislators to operate their own small business so they will know how a business is really run. They will have to keep overhead low if they want their families to profit from their legislating profession. They can make more than they do now if they run it economically. They can go broke if they don’t. They will be better congressmen and senators for it. We will be better off when they learn and understand business and frugality.
Five hundred thousand dollars per year to run their office, and that’s it. They must pay to operate their own offices themselves; it isn’t free. Rent might be $2,000 a month or it could be $10,000 – whatever they want it to be to operate. If they need another office in their home district, they have to pay for that too. If they want to hire anyone, they can pay to hire them. If they want to do mailings, they can do them, but they have to pay for them like we do. If they want a pension, they can fund it the same way any other businessman does. They want health insurance, they have to buy it. Welcome to the world of small business.