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Ralph Nader > In the Public Interest > Payraise/Repeal CAP

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Ac­tivist Ralph Nader announced Wednesday a campaign to repeal the new congres­sional pay raise, con­tending the “pay grab” voted by the House and Senate last week would have made Marie Antoinette proud. Nader, known for his at­tempts to organize grass-roots campaigns, said he was certain the vast majority of Americans were upset by the pay raise and contended that if it is not re­pealed next year, it would be­come a major issue in the 1990 elections.

He complained that the $35,000 annual boost for House members and $9,000 increase for senators — most kicking in after next year’s elections —were passed with almost no public scrutiny and were espe­cially offensive because they followed a small increase in the minimum wage.

“Members of Congress are in the top 1 percent of income earners in the United States,” said Nader. “The gap between the rulers and the ruled should grow no larger.

“Eighteen dollars an hour in­crease for top government offi­cials and a little more than eight dimes for millions of Americans,” he added. “Could Marie Antoinette have topped it?”

Nader referred to the wife of the French king who, according to legend, was told the people had no bread and replied, “Let them eat cake.” She was be­headed in the French Revolu­tion.

He complained that the so-called ethics improvements Congress passed with the pay raise were only a smokescreen and argued that people were not fooled. “They don’t like any­one to be paid to behave a little better,” he said.

Nader said a main weapon in his drive would be appearing on local radio talk shows — the same forum credited earlier this year with stopping a 51 percent congressional pay raise. “I did 25 radio talk shows last week, 15 yesterday,” he said, adding that he also would cam­paign for 12-year limits on con­gressional terms.

He contended the pay raise would unite people of all ideolo­gies and said he would try to have his campaign “focus on incumbent legislators who voted for the pay grab and to request that those legislators who voted against the pay grab declare in writing that they will not take the salary increase.”

Nader also complained about the cooperation between Demo­crats and Republicans to pass the increase, calling it a “two-party cabal.”

“The spectacle of [House Speaker] Tom Foley [D-Wash.] promising to go down to Geor­gia and defend Republican Newt Gingrich from a Demo­cratic challenger’s criticisms of Gingrich’s pro-pay increase vote and vice-versa illustrates the sodden cynicism behind the facade of competitive politics,” he said.

“When the lucre in their pocket is involved, the solons band together,” Nader said.