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Congress: Overbearing, Overpaid, & Overrated

Dick-Baynton-Print-MugRecently, Representative Jim Moran (D) Virginia said in an interview with CQ Roll Call the following: “I think the American people should know that members of Congress are underpaid.” Other remarks were added mentioning that Congress ‘under-performs’ but complained that some members have to pay for housing both in Washington and in their home states. Mention was made of some Congressmen who sleep in their offices while others maintain small apartments or rooms to help make ends meet. In January of this year, Mr. Moran announced that he would retire after 23 years in office.

Regarding Mr. Moran’s complaint about inadequate salaries for members of Congress, he knew what income could be expected prior to running for office. His home in Arlington, VA is an easy bus or short rail ride on Metro. Maybe the reason Mr. Moran ran for a Congressional seat is the assured future benefits. According to a CRS report, at his age and number of years of service, his retirement will amount to about $44,000 per year plus social security plus years in federal civil service that probably amounts to another $30,000 to $50,000 or more. Assuming the previous numbers are reasonable, Mr. Moran’s taxpayer funded retirement pensions almost certainly add up to between $75,000 and $100,000 annually.

Mr. Moran has been a career ‘public servant’ or if you prefer, a ‘public burden.’ While he may have done some great things in his career in addition to securing reelection, his experience in the private sector is negligible. After college graduation, he spent a short time as a stockbroker, returned to college to gather a Master of Public Administration degree and moved to Washington, D.C. He worked in a variety of positions in federal government in the 1970’s then became Mayor of Alexandria in 1979 and eventually resigned to take a congressional seat in 1991.

In addition to some fairly exquisite retirement benefits, Mr. Moran and his peers receive a plethora of goodies regarding travel, office expenses and staff assistance. One of the biggest benefits added lately is the government subsidized healthcare premiums as allowed by the OPM. The Office of Personnel Management, in concert with President Obama have ruled that the 435 members of Congress and their thousands of staff members will continue to receive taxpayer-funded subsidies of up to 75% of their health insurance premiums.

This whining by a departing Congressman should alert all citizens interested in good government to the growing abuses the voting public sustains. Career politicians have hijacked the leadership of this country. People like Congressman Jim Moran and others have spent entire careers in what the elite refer to as public service but is really taxpayer servitude. Many of these wealthy career politicians have gained their financial prominence as a result of working for themselves under the cloak of toiling for the people. Instead of having the best interests of those who vote and pay taxes, government officials empower themselves to do what is best for them and the lobbyists (pressure groups) they yield to.

It is high time that citizen groups erupt into power and neutralize the forces of crony capitalism in a culture of corruption and interrupt the potency of politics. We must search for and elect statesmen (and women) to carry out the best interests of self-supporting and determined citizens. Term limits by choice or by law should be instituted. Goals should be set. All levels of government should achieve predetermined results. Compensation should relate directly to achievement.

This nation is awash in millions of pages of obsolete and overlapping pernicious laws and regulations. Our foreign relations and international strategies are in tatters. The economy is stuck on low performance. Entitlements have expanded beyond needs. Shares of national debt and unfunded liabilities by those yet unborn will amount to more than some of them will earn in a lifetime.

And a Congressman believes that he and his peers deserve greater than $174,000 annual salaries in addition to subsidized healthcare and awesome benefits for life.

 – Dick Baynton

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