DECEMBER 19, 2008
Amid the nation’s worsening financial crisis and all-time low approval ratings from constituents across the country, members of Congress have increased their salary again.
Not that long ago, lawmakers demanded that high-paid executives work for free to ease the pain of their financially struggling companies. Evidently, legislators are not willing to at least freeze their generous $169,300 annual salary (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi makes $217,400 and minority and majority leaders in the House and Senate make $188,100) for the good of the nation.
Instead U.S. taxpayers will dish out an extra $2.5 million to boost annual congressional salaries by $4,700. This may seem outrageous since polls have consistently revealed historically low approval ratings for Congress in the last year amid a series of bipartisan legal scandals and corruption probes.
Regardless of the low confidence ratings, members of Congress got their second substantial raise—$4,000 a year—in only six months at the start of 2008 making this increase the third in less than two years. If their salary was tied to their performance, like most Americans, lawmakers would have likely seen a substantial pay cut.
At least one well-known politician—Alaska Governor Sarah Palin—refused her pay raise, even though it was recommended by a state compensation commission. The commission wants to increase the Republican governor’s salary from $125,000 to $150,000 and also give raises to the lieutenant governor, department heads and legislators.
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