Topic category: Other/General
Democrats screw themselves out of pay raise
Score one for the Republicans in the Nancy Pelosi Era of Congress.
All the political grandstanding by Democratic candidates about Congressional pay last fall appears to have backfired on them.
Remember the pandering to voters by Democrats who insisted they wouldn't take a pay increase until the minimum wage was raised? As if giving American workers chump change is the same as a hefty pay raise for our under-worked and overpaid members of Congress.
House Republicans, still smarting from losing the majority in House to the Donkey-crats, managed to outwit their rivals by blocking the scheduled 1.7 percent pay hike Congress gave itself for 2007 as a cost-of-living-adjustment.
Congressional pay will be frozen at $165,200.
The Republicans and Democrats had a handshake deal since 1989 whereby they would not make Congressional pay a campaign issue. They also figured out a way to avoid voting to give themselves a raise each year by triggering automatic COLAs for members of Congress unless they vote not to accept the increases. That hasn't happened yet.
The Democrats had to ruin it for everyone by making Congressional pay a big part of their attack ads on Republicans leading up to the November 2006 elections. The ads linked Congressional pay raises with alleged Republican inaction on the minimum wage. You remember the attack ads: "Rep. Joe Blow voted against raising the minimum wage, but voted himself a pay raise for four consecutive years."
Adding insult to injury for Democrats is the fact that the pay raise vote was already taken for 2007 before Democrats starting attacking Republicans in the fall.
The pay raise automatically kicked in when Congress voted 263-152 last June to reject a move by Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, to force an up-or-down vote on the pay raise. That allowed the automatic COLA for 2007.
The rich members of Congress -- Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, etc. -- don't care about the $2,800 pay raise, but a lot of those new Democratic members could have used the extra pocket money. They'll have to wait until 2008 to pad their own salary.
By the way, the minimum wage increase that Democrats promised still hasn't cleared the Senate.
The one-year freeze on Congressional pay is a good time to take a serious look at how we pay our elected representatives and other officials. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has been lobbying for higher pay for judges.
Every member of Congress and the courts knew what the job paid when they took it. Everybody wants more money, but whatever happened to the concept of public service?
We have to figure out a better way of compensating elected and appointed officials. The current system, where they give themselves pay raises, is wrong.
Biography - Tony Phyrillas
Tony Phyrillas is a leading conservative political columnist and blogger based in Pennsylvania. He is a veteran journalist with 25 years experience as a reporter, editor and columnist for several newspapers. Phyrillas received recognition for column writing in 2010 from the Associated Press Managing Editors, in 2007 from Suburban Newspapers of America and in 2006 from the Society of Professional Journalists, Keystone Chapter. A graduate of Penn State University, Phyrillas is the city editor and political columnist for The Mercury, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper in Pottstown, Pa. In addition to The Mercury website (www.pottsmerc.com), his columns are featured on more than a dozen political websites and blogs. Phyrillas is a frequent guest (and occasional host) on talk radio and has been a panelist on the "Journalists Roundtable" public affairs TV program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). Phyrillas was named one of the '10 Leading Greek-American Bloggers in the World' in 2007 by Odyssey: The World of Greece magazine. BlogNetNews.com ranked Phyrillas the Most Influential Political Blogger in Pennsylvania for three consecutive years (2007-2010). You can follow Phyrillas on Twitter @TonyPhyrillas