Americans from coast to coast are closely watching the current budget drama in Washington with an eye on what effect this will have on their own finances in the coming year. Some Americans feel that in the end, Congress will do the right thing, while others watch cynically, and believe that Congress will do what’s best for their campaign contributors and themselves, not necessarily their constituents.
What nearly all Americans have in common, is derision for Congress, after all, they’ve known this day was coming and should have had a plan ready. And for most Americans, if you are employed and don’t do your job, you don’t keep it.
Yet this Congress, which has been unable to agree on a viable plan to stabilize the federal budget for the last four years, remains largely unchanged after November’s election. Instead of being booted out of office they remain, with the same tired arguments and the same ineffectual plans.
Shouldn’t they be docked until they can successfully perform their jobs? Shouldn’t they have stayed in Washington through the holidays until the country’s fiscal problems were solved?
According to the Washington Examiner, lawmakers were already grumbling about having to spend the new year holiday in Washington. They are entitled, after all, to have a Christmas vacation.
It seems lost on them that they have only themselves to blame for this unfairness.
So what is the real problem here? Why can’t they come up with a solution? Do they honestly believe that if you raise the tax rates on the wealthy the economic gains we have achieved will grind to a screeching halt?
Or is it simply that our Congresspeople don’t want their own taxes to go up?
According to McClatchy, the Senate’s median income was $1.79 million in 2008, and in the House, the median income was $645,503 in the same year.
With statistics like this it’s easy to see why Congress didn’t like Obama’s original plan of only raising taxes on those making $250,000, or his compromise offer of raising it on Americans making over $400,000.
It also demonstrates why John Boehner’s compromise offer of raising taxes on those who make over $1,000,000 failed. Not only would that adversely affect their campaign contributors, but their own taxes would rise.
If you think that’s a cynical view, one only has to examine the reactions of individual Congresspeople to the freeze of their cost-of-living raise in 2010.
McClatchy reported that Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., who voted against freezing their COLA increase, said of the vote, “I apply the same standard to myself that I do for others. If you were due for a cost of living increase, you should get it.”
To Watt, their COLA increase is an entitlement.
Apparently Watt doesn’t understand that the vast majority of Americans do not enjoy cost-of-living increases, their pay is based on performance, or is nonexistent if their company is having financial problems.
Perhaps Watt should apply the financial ability standard to Congressional raises because from where Americans are sitting, the federal government is so overloaded with debt if it was a private company, it would have long ago sunk into bankruptcy and obscurity. There would be no question about raises. Companies whose workers demand raises that the company can’t afford to pay, die.
If you don’t believe that, try to buy a Twinkie.
So where will your finances be come January?
What is certain, is that Americans who pay into Social Security will receive a two percent pay cut.
For the last two years, the payroll tax on Social Security was cut by two percent. For Illinoisans, it meant that the the state income tax increase wasn’t noticed on your paycheck because the tax cut offset it.
This tax cut is not being extended. Your take home pay will decrease by two percent – guaranteed. If you also pay into Railroad Retirement, expect another half a percent decrease. The Tier II tax goes up half of a percent starting January 1, 2013.
So railroad workers get a two and a half percent pay cut.
If the agriculture bill is not passed, the price of milk will increase as well, as will anything made with milk, such as chocolate, ice cream, cheese, frozen dinners or your favorite carryout coffee, whether you take milk or not.
And yet, despite this, Reuters reports that Richard Weiss, a senior money manager at American Century Investments, isn’t concerned with January 1 because any deal can be made retroactive.
Does that mean you’ll get a refund for all the milk you bought?
If you are on unemployment your benefits will be gone. If you are a senior, count on the pool of doctors you choose from to be cut, as their payments for services are slashed by the federal government and they refuse to take on more Medicare patients.
Interestingly, whenever Congress tries to reign in spending, it is always social programs that get hit.
There is no detail about which programs are on the chopping block, but for all of the Congressional posturing on what to do to prevent another Sandy Hill shooting, the one suggestion that has never been proffered, is to increase spending on mental health, which would clearly help more than gun control or armed police in the schools.
Perhaps the lawmakers should start their cuts with themselves, and what they cost the American people.
Aside from their salaries, which exceed $100,000 and include three vacations — spring, summer and Christmas, they don’t work a full workweek. They don’t even have to come to work if they don’t want to. And you pay for the water they drink in their Congressional sessions. You may even pay for the House dry cleaner.
How many sick and vacation days do they get? Are they paid to miss votes on the campaign trail?
In Illinois, how is Mark Kirk surviving? Is he paid a full salary or is he on long term disability? And how long does that last?
Jesse Jackson, Jr. commented that he didn’t relinquish his seat because he needed the health insurance. Is that why Mark Kirk hasn’t resigned?
Americans don’t have that option. Try telling your boss he can’t lay you off because you need the health insurance and see how far that gets you.
At what point does Illinois get the second senator that the U.S. Constitution guarantees?
They also get pensions, which most Americans don’t.
What is their personal pension contribution?
While Americans contribute more to pay for the health benefits slashed by the cash-strapped companies for which they work, or suffer furlough days to save on salary expenses, Congress is not subject to any of these belt-tightening maneuvers, nor are federal workers.
Amazingly, American workers are subject to them, and in addition, they are expected to do their jobs, which apparently is not required of Congress.
But it should be, so dock them, for failing their sole responsibility.
And next election — vote them all out.
Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/05/03/93358/congress-where-44-percent-ar…