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Ralph Nader > In the Public Interest > Pay Grab – HR1003

Repeal of the Bush-Congress Pay Grab, amounting to about $40,000 a year plus bulging benefits, is the centerpiece of the current spate of check bouncing at the House Bank and other perk abuses.

Cong. Andy Jacobs (D-IN) has introduced the repealer bill H.R. 1003, to drive down Congressional and upper Executive branch pay to under $100,000 from the present $129,500. Jacobs, an independent thinker, regularly opposes Congressional Pay Hikes and takes no more than $75,000 a year for his salary. While the House Bank scandal gets more serious every day — the U.S. Attorney’s office is investigating possible criminal violations by some members –persistent check kiting is oily one of a bunch of nest-feathering perks, freebies and benefits that make up the Imperial Congress. (A more detailed list is contained in Feathering Their Own Nests available for $5.00 from our Congressional Accountability Project, PO Box 19446, Washington, D.C. 20636).

People remember the White House-Congressional Pa; Grab that was rammed through Congress and signed by George Bush at a time of massive government deficits, scandals, recession, and unemployment. They remember the luxurious life styles, privileges and immunities of Senators and Representatives. Arid now they seem ready to generate a firestorm of protest toward Capitol Hill and at the ballot box in November, assuming there is a capable challenger on the ballot to choose.

A few days ago I sent an open leader to the leadership in Congress — Foley, Michel, Mitchell and Dole — urging them to make lemonade out of the House Bank lemon.

The House Bank scandal is one of checks and imbalances — very symbolic of the Imperial Congress and its pampered denizens. The leadership could seize the historic moment and announce three reforms that would recover some of its damaged moral authority to govern.

These three reforms are (1) removal of all perks; (2) repeal of their Pay Grab and (3) enactment of the long stalled, genuine campaign finance cleanup that would take corrupting private money out of electoral politics.

These three moves would show the people of this country that the Congressional leadership means business. The Congressional pastimes of big perks, big pay grabs and big pensions distract, compromise and corrupt Congress. They produce a deep loss of respect among Americans, especially those whose minimum wage today is worth less in inflation adjusted dollars than twenty years ago. Millions of bread winners are held to about V500 a year — the present federal minimum — while their public servants are making more than fifteen times as much.

The likelihood that Congress will move on these three fronts depends on the folks back home pushing Capitol Hill with their calls, messages and protests. Challenges at election time by determined candidates will be most helpful as well so that incumbents like Cong. Nancy Johnson (R-CT) do not get a free ride every two years from a defaulting Democratic Party.

Our Congressional Accountability Group has established a 900 telephone line if you wish to quickly send a written message to your Representative demanding repeal of the Congressional Pay Grab by supporting H.R. 1003. The number to call (there would be a $2.00 charge on your telephone bill) is 1-900-786-4040. Go citizens!!