Congress Is So Awful Because It Needs a Raise
Daniel Schuman: If we want good lawmakers, we need to pay them more
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2013 12:14 PM CDT
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi applauds after handing the gavel to House Speaker John Boehner on Jan. 3, 2013.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(Newser) – File this one at the opposite end of the spectrum as "throw the bums out." Daniel Schuman argues at Slate that we need to give Congress a hefty raise. The workload is way up thanks to slashed staffing levels, while salaries are way down relative to previous decades. What's more, the work environment is "poisonous," and lucrative pay awaits in the lobbying industry. No wonder we can't keep good lawmakers. "We get what we pay for, and there’s no question we are not paying enough to keep the best people on the job," writes Schuman.

Members of Congress make a base salary of $174,000, which is nothing to sneeze at, but those in office 20 years ago would have made $214,000 in today's dollars. Singapore provides a model: It has an uber-efficient government in part because it pays top government ministers seven-figure salaries. "If we want our representatives to work for us, we must pay them well enough to stay focused on the people’s business," writes Schuman. The same applies to their staff. "Right now we aren’t paying for quality work, and it shows." Click for Schuman's full column.

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Showing 3 of 78 comments
Apr 4, 2013 5:54 AM CDT
they say its a calling to serve the like Obama and hagel and give some of it back instead of asking for more. bunch of greedy cry babies.
Apr 3, 2013 8:18 AM CDT
They're not there for the salary. They're there for the insider trading. They make their millions from buying stocks that they know will be impacted by legislation that they are working on. There is a reason there are more millionaire congressmen than "average joes". Then the real perks come after they leave office and go to work in the industry that their committee oversaw when they were in office. We might hope to get a better quality of congressman if we banned all private employment by those who have been in congress for 10 years. But fat chance of that happening if we're going to wait for them pass laws to restrict their own power and wealth.
Apr 3, 2013 7:15 AM CDT
Their pay while they are in congress is really insignificant because they get far more money from lobbyists. A hefty raise will be like adding a cherry on top but really doesn't add much to the millions that they get from lobbyist and special interests.