Whitesburg KY

Congress got it right

While lawmakers should lead by example, sometimes they don’t. But, in the case of Congress voting to deny its members an automatic cost-of-living pay raise in 2011, they got it right.

On April 27, the House voted 402-15 against the pay increase, saying that giving themselves the increase in an election year when the unemployment rate hovers near 10 percent was a bad idea.

The increase, an estimated $1,600, was also voted down by the Senate a few days earlier. House members are currently earning $174,000 a year.

Members of both the House and the Senate should be proud of voting against a pay raise this year, especially when unemployment is where it currently is. It is worth mentioning that while unemployment officially hovers near 10 percent, that number is actually higher because many unemployed people have become discouraged and are no longer looking for work, and therefore, are not counted.

Automatic cost-of-living pay increases have been in effect since 1989, when, as part of ethics reform, lawmakers agreed to give up getting paid for speeches, a lucrative source of side income. …

It is a shame that 15 members of Congress failed to join in this bipartisan vote and realize that they shouldn’t have received a pay raise either. It would have been a great opportunity to show solidarity with those they represent.

All 15 members who voted against blocking the pay hike were Democrats. And 13 of those were members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C.

Considering unemployment among blacks runs higher than the national average, their action is puzzling.

It is rare that we see much bipartisanship in Washington, D.C., but this is one case where both sides came together and that is something to be proud of.

Congress did the right thing here and we hope they will refuse any future pay raises until the economy has improved dramatically.

— Daily News, Bowling Green, Ky.

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