JUNE 28, 2007
Although they recently learned that the people they serve have virtually no confidence in them, House lawmakers quietly voted to give themselves a hefty pay raise this week.
House members will receive a $4,400 annual pay raise that will increase their annual salary to about $170,000 even though their collective bosses, the American people, have given them dismal job performance evaluations.
A pair of lawmakers – Utah Democrat Jim Matheson and Nebraska Republican Lee Terry – tried to block the increase but their colleagues killed the effort with a 244-181 vote that will put more taxpayer dollars in their pockets.
The pay increase comes on the heels of a national Gallup poll that revealed the nation’s confidence in Congress has never been worst. The 14% confidence rating of the country’s federal lawmaking bodies was actually the lowest of the 16 institutions tested in the survey. It also ranks among one of the all time lowest confidence ratings for any institution tested in the last three decades.
The survey revealed that, in the eyes of Americans, Congress is in the same negative rank as the notoriously lowly esteemed Health Maintenance Organizations. This is a far cry from the highest rating Congress has ever received – 40% during the Watergate era in the 1970s and again in 1986.
Undoubtedly, a series of bipartisan legal scandals and corruption probes as well as widespread allegations of unethical behavior – in both the U.S. Senate and the House—led to the poor rating.
Highlights include a Republican California Congressman (Randy Duke Cunningham) serving eight years in prison for taking more than $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors, a Republican Ohio Congressman (Bob Ney) jailed for taking bribes in the mega corruption scheme involving convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and an Ohio Democrat (James Traficant) sentenced to eight years for racketeering and accepting bribes.
Just recently, a nine-term Democrat Louisiana Congressman (William Jefferson) was federally indicted for accepting hefty bribes over the years. He was actually caught in the act when federal agents video taped him accepting a bag full of cash and later found $90,000 – wrapped in aluminum foil–stashed in the freezer of his home.
Then there is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi secretly inserting a last-minute provision into a multi billion-dollar redevelopment bill that benefited her husband financially and her highly publicized, taxpayer-financed lavish jet to ferry her and her entourage from coast-to-coast.
Most Americans would never even think of a pay increase under these circumstances, yet the people they elected to serve them got one.
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