A better Way to Compensate Elected Officials

Cut the Deficit, Blanace the Budget, and Cut Back Corruption

February 27, 2009

My brother sent me an email recommending cutting the size of congress in half and cutting wages, and reducing each individual congress person's support staff by 25%. The email outlined how much money could be saved this way, and what some projected benefits woudl be. Of course, you never really know how serious something like that is, but you do know that its likelihood is pretty slim.

Actually, I think a better solution would be to change the pay scale of all congresscritters (well, actually all elected officials) to the average (median) salary of their constituency. Then cap their salary at that. Period. Any bonuses, bribes, spiffs, kick-backs, etc they get from any party, whether it is their own company, a business they own stock in, or from a special interest or lobbyist, or any other party will be deducted automatically from what the taxpayers pay them. If any elected official receives sufficient revenue, whether it is in the form of cash, meals, gifts, stock, or whatever, to exceed the median salary of their constituency, that extra is immediately owed to the payroll department or organization that would normally provide their pay. This fund can then be put into the general fund for that level of government, applied to debts the government holds, or used for other practical purposes.

To get this in place, there are probably a couple of things that will need to be done. In Washington D.C., provide dormitory-style accommodations for our congresscritters. A two bedroom apartment per congresscritter should be more than sufficient. If they don't like that, then they can pay out of their salary to maintain another household somewhere. However, the regulation would still stand. If they get the housing from some other means, that is a direct pay deduction.

In addition to encouraging the congresscritters and other elected officials to think about things that will actually improve the economy by either making a dollar go further, or by increasing salaries and wages without increasing costs (which is to say NOT raising the minimum wage, which just makes everyone poorer, especially those at minimum wage), this should also severely weaken the lobbying power of any group, leveling the playing field, and possibly getting at least some congresscritters to think about their constituency, rather than thinking about their highest-paying lobbyist.

Further this should discourage the kind of 'how do I get rich with little or no work' congress we have, and push us back toward 'taking elected office is an honor and something I do to give back to my constituency' attitude of politicians.