On NBC’s “Meet the Press” July 21, Rep. Dick Armey (R, Texas) appeared as a guest. He was questioned by Tim Russert, the show’s host, on a number of issues.
I know I shouldn’t be surprised by anything that comes out of Washington, but I couldn’t believe this exchange from the show:
Mr. Russert: “Many Americans expressed concern last week that for the fourth time in five years, Congress voted themselves a $5,000 pay raise. Why would Congress raise their salary to $150,000 in these times of economic difficulty?”
Rep. Armey: “Well, first of all, the report is just technically wrong. The Congress didn’t vote themselves a pay raise. What Congress did was not vote away their diminished cost-of-living increase that is a half a percentage point below that which is given to every other federal employee. We just simply did not deny ourselves that normal increase in our cost of living that every other worker in America not only expects but insists upon. I don’t know why anybody in America would say, ‘Mr. Big Shot, get yourself elected to Congress and then be stupid enough to deny yourself the pay and benefits that your job warrants.’ Nobody’s asked to do that in the news service, nobody’s asked that to do that in the movies and nobody’s asked to do that in the universities. Why would they ask members of Congress, who work harder than anybody in any of those professions, to do it? It’s bizarre that people would have that kind of an unrealistic expectation of hardworking people.”
So, I guess many Americans for the last several years have insisted upon being laid off, taking pay cuts and not receiving raises or bonuses? I mean we would not want to “deny ourselves that normal increase in our cost of living that every other worker in America not only expects but insists upon.” Would we?
Or maybe members of Congress are really that much harder working than everyone else? Surely, none of the readers of this magazine work harder than a member of Congress.
The irony isn’t so much that members of Congress are able to vote themselves pay increases, or that they get paid with our tax dollars, but that we pay them and they say something like that.
“…cost-of-living increase that is a half a percentage point below that which is given to every other federal employee…”
Oh, how they sacrifice for us...