Saturday, December 03, 2011

Means-Tested Congressional Salaries

The Republicans recently failed to pass a bill that would have reduced federal employees and salaries. I don't support such cuts in our poor economy because it will slow the recovery. But, I have another proposal.

I suggest that the salaries of elected personnel be adjusted according to their financial means. I think citizens should participate out of a sense of duty to their city, state and country. Citizens who chose to serve should be fairly compensated for their service but only to the extent that they need it. Medicare is available to every elder citizen at no cost except for citizens that have the means to pay for a portion of their Medicare coverage. Let's apply the same rule to our representatives.

If the majority of our 535 voting and 6 non-voting members of Congress want to reduce the cost of our federal government then they should start with their own salaries.  Members with significant assets and/or other incomes will have their congressional salaries reduced by an amount proportional to their assets and other incomes.  Members with assets greater than $3 million or other income greater than 150% of the congressional base pay will only receive refunds for reasonable travel, office and staff expenses.

Since 261 members of Congress are millionaires, I estimate that we could save at least $50 million per year by using a means test to determine the salaries of our federal representatives from the president down. If we applied the means test to all local, state and federal elected and appointed office holders, taxpayers could save hundreds of millions, greatly reduce the number of career politicians and eliminate the financial incentive which begets much of the financial corruption in our government.