Civic Responsibility, Coingressional Pay Raises, National Debt, Political Corruption, Politics, Taxes

Congressional Pay Raise

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ln 1965 congressional salaries were raised from $22,-500 to $30,000 – and four years ago there was a 41 per cent jump to $42,500.

Now a new proposal in process would give congress members and some other officials salary increases reportedly in the neighborhood
of $10,000 a year. Obviously rising living costs affect congressmen as well as everyone else. But are such massive salary increases justified? Are they consistent in an atmosphere of economic controls and appeals for non-inflationary labor contracts?

If the present bi-partisan effort in Congress succeeds, the new pay boost will be
approved this year instead of next to avoid political embarrassment in the election
year. The raise can be accomplished without even the necessity of a congressional
vote, The plan works like this:

1. The nine-member Commission on Executive, Legislative, and Judicial
Salaries submits its report to the White House on June 30,(This was done on schedule.The report has been a closely-guarded secret but inside sources have pegged recommended congressional salaries at between $52,000 and $55,000).
2. Current law provides that the President transmit his
recommendations to Congress in January with his budget for fiscal 1975. Congress then has 30 days to act – or rather, not to act. If the solons sit tight and do nothing, the pay raises go into effect. To reject the boost, the Senate and House must specifically pass a bill turning it down.
3. Legislation before Congress right now – sponsored hy Senators Gale McGee (D-Wyo.) and Hiram Fong (R-Hawaii) – sets up machinery
to settle the salary issue before the 1974 election year,
without tampering with the “back door” process of an in-
crease without the necessity of a congressional vote. The bill
calls for salary commission recommendations every two years instead of four, retains June 30 as the report deadline,but requires the President to submit his findings to Congress by Aug. 31. Congress
would have until Oct. 1 to reject any raise – or allow it to take effect.
The Herald believes the salary commission’s report should be made public im mediately. We believe, too, that the “back door” maneuver should be abandoned in favor of full debate and a record roll call. As Rep. H.R. Gross of Iowa was quoted as saying: “If members of Congress want a pay raise they should stand up and be counted.” Commission recommendations every two years instead of four might be more reflective of cost ofliving changes.
Indeed, some type of plan for cost-of-living increases, as proposed by Sen. Theodore Stevens (R-Alaska) might be preferable to the big
jump every four years. As for moving the salary question to
non-election years, we don’t see why Congress should worry if proposed raises are moderate and justified.
We must expect to pay our senators and representatives and other officials adequately. But raises should be accomplished in a highly
public way with opportunity for public input; on a scale
that we can afford; and in keeping with non-inflationary policies. In the practice of sound economics, Congress should set the example.