Are Taxpayers Getting Their Money's Worth? New Report Exposes the True Cost of Congressional Compensation
07-27-2011 at 09:07 am - David Williams - Posted in: Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Salaries, David Williams, Congress - 33 Comments

If the debate leading up to the debt ceiling deadline has told taxpayers anything, it is that Congress likes to wait until the last minute to do anything and they act like martyrs when they cancel part of their summer vacation.  The American public is not being fooled.  In a national Rasmussen Reports telephone survey, only 8 percent of likely U.S. voters think Congress is doing a good or excellent job.  Fifty-two percent rate Congress' performance as poor.  To make matters worse, the same group of elected officials who have trouble coming to a consensus to save the country from economic Armageddon make a healthy living at taxpayers’ expense.  A new report by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance and Our Generation details the generous compensation for members of Congress, who receive a salary of $174,000 per year, as well as generous fringe benefits that boost their total compensation to $285,000 per year (read full report here).

It is also disturbing to hear of the generous pay and benefits Congress has provided for itself in a time when unemployment rates are unacceptably high and those who work in virtually all industries in the private sector have seen their wages flatten out, or even cut.  Those who were able to keep their jobs are constantly evaluated by "pay for performance" standards.  It is clear that these performance standards are not applied to Congress, because the country is saddled with a $14.3 trillion debt and a $1.5 trillion deficit.

Members of Congress are among the highest-paid 5 percent of American workers. Unlike the private sector, where salaries are earned from willing customers, Congressional salaries and benefits are taken out of taxpayer’s pockets.

Another way to measure congressional salaries is to compare them with the average wages earned by private-sector employees.  According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an average full-time employee in the United States earns annual pay of $50,875.  Members of Congress receive salaries of $174,000.  This means that Members of Congress make 3.4 times more than the average full-time American worker.  In addition, on average, legislators in other parts of the developed world receive salaries equal to 2.3 times the average wage of a full-time worker.  By these standards, Members of Congress are among the highest-paid legislators in the world.

Finally, the relative disproportionality of congressional pay does not disappear if one compares congressional pay with the pay of more educated private-sector employees.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, private-sector workers holding masters degrees earned 63 percent more than the average full-time American worker, or about $83,000.  Even by this standard, Congressional salaries are more than double those paid to well-educated private-sector workers. 

Most taxpayers think that Members of Congress should be adequately compensated for their efforts.  However, it is excessive when the salaries and benefits paid to members of Congress make them among the best compensated employees in the American workforce.  During a weak economic recovery, when unemployment is high and many Americans have had to make do with less, Congress should be sensitive regarding the salaries and benefits it provides to  itself.  Given record budget deficits, debt, and Congress’ seeming inability to agree on plans to address the shortfall, many Americans are skeptical of what they receive in return for what they are paying.  Immediate steps need to be taken to cut Congressional salaries and benefits.  For example, a salary cut of $74,000 (which would bring their salary to $100,000) would save taxpayers $39 million per year and reassure Americans that sacrifices made during this economic downturn are being shared by everybody, especially Members of Congress.

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After that lets take one half of their fringe benefits as well. then make them use the same insurance programs that they are forcing on the tax payer. Lets make congress and senators pay for their medical insurance out of their pockets instead of our pockets. those two cuts would save the tax payer at least another 100 million a year.
JOhn - 08-04-2011 at 10:15 am
Congressmen or women should have their salaries refigured to be the average of the state they come from this way they can stay in touch with their constituency. And they should get a matching 401k just like most Americans have access to for as long as they are in office. Even matching dollar for dollar and when they are voted out of office they receive their 401k check then find some other place to invest what they have contributed. As for their health care I believe that they should keep receiving the care that they receive for as long as they are in office. Then when they are no longer in office they are opted out of the current plan or can pay for cobra.
Eon - 08-29-2011 at 04:13 pm
NO one is asking these congressmen and women and senators to run for office or stay in office for ever. There must be some tremendous retirement benfits for them as they stay too long....some for a lifetime
Lori Webb - 08-29-2011 at 04:32 pm
" GIVE ME A BREAK " are they serious. Try living on a fixed income for awhile. Look at the number of senior citizens living on $ 12000.00 to $ 15000.00 per year. And the country's leaders are saying they are living paycheck to paycheck.
Lawrence Hutchinson - 08-29-2011 at 04:59 pm
Boo Ho I can't pay my mortgage on my $175,000.00 year PART TIME JOB,what about ALL of us who can't pay our mortgages WE DON'TGET ALL THOSE PERKS LIKE YOU DO!!!!!!CASH___CASH___CASH__VOTE FOR THIS BILL!!!!!!!!!!!!!MORE CASH!!!!
bigw - 08-29-2011 at 05:07 pm
What! I know I sure could live on 174k per year. Been doing with alot less for a very long time. And if they go vote themselves a raise, I sure know where my vote will go.
joseph - 08-29-2011 at 05:20 pm
Unbelieveable is all I have to say. I want their job !! Cut their salaries, convert them to Social Security, rescind their pensions and offer them equivalent 401-k's. Make them like "Joe Q Public." They should suffer just like everyone else. The only words they know how to spell is "tax and spend." What a bunch of con men & women. They get shot because people are fed up with their bullshit!!
Kurt Hoffmann - 08-29-2011 at 05:33 pm
I think it really should be up to the people paying taxes to decide on congress pay increase as well and their returnment benefits and the insurance they should be using
wanda - 08-29-2011 at 06:01 pm
These public employees act like they are being forced to work for the goverment. Remember they begged us to give them the job, "please vote for me!". You mean to say they didn't ask what the job paid? Too bad for them. Now maybe they will understand what live ithin your means is all about-- oh why don't they pay their bills the way they pay the bills where they work(congress)
JoeRod - 08-29-2011 at 06:26 pm
If they can't live on 175M tell them to go home and try to make that amt
J Dunbar - 08-29-2011 at 06:56 pm
And the next fact is that their retirement is garunteed. Where as the average americans retirement is day to day. When congress took control of some peoples retirement funds they lost alot of money and then congress is not held accountable. They can miss handle our money everyday, but their money and healthcare is guarenteed!
Joseph Swindells - 08-29-2011 at 07:26 pm
Congress makes 3.5 times the average worker, and 5 times what I made the last 2 years (while I was laid off from my job), due to the great managerial skills of congress' handling of our economy. "Any member of Congress whom believes they are underpaid is welcome to resign and live on unemployment income like the rest of us out here in the real world."
Raymond Kushner - 08-29-2011 at 08:07 pm
How dare they ask for raises. We on Social Security have been told for the last two years that the cost of living has not gone up and therfore havee not received any necessay compensation to keep up with the cost of living wqe have to deal with. For example Gas prices are much higher than they were 2 years ago. Then it caused a ripple effect across the ecomny. Food prices forced to go up, not to mention the cost of home heating oil. Just who does figure out the cost of living index. Are the living in the same world as us.
Congress how dare you ask for pay increases. You have ran for these jobs because you say you want to help the good American citizens. If you took the job for money and feel you are under paid QUIT. And save the good American People some money.
I could ramble on about this much more but I think you get the message.

A Good American Citizen
Robert DeSantis - 08-29-2011 at 08:15 pm
BRAVO!!! You didn't even mention special Christmas gifts that so many of them get from their "sponsors" that helped get them in. If the job is so bad why do they spend millions and lie cheat and steal to get it? Not all, but many, too many.
billb - 08-29-2011 at 10:38 pm
It is unbelievable!
Francis Holminski - 08-29-2011 at 11:58 pm
Congress needs to earn the salary they currently receive.

No sympanthy from me. With many fringe benefits, many stonewalling events, disagreements, lies, etc.

When we - the Country - start cutting benifits and jobs, we need to first start looking at many of the members of government. THEY ARE SERVANTS. Not elete.
elscott - 08-30-2011 at 06:11 am
How in the hell can these people say that they are not getting enough money to make it or pay their lavish bills, and I'm sitting here unemployed, my son is unemployed, I'm on welfare, but carry two college degrees, no car to drive, no cable to look at, can't hardly pay the light bill and the rent, and sometimes, don't have money to buy simple toiletries like, toilet paper, toothpaste, soap, dishwashing liquid and laundry detergent? Shall I go on?????? They've never missed a meal or have never been able to not feed their children and the student loans, hell, I'm still deferring for over many years. I've never been able to pay back yet! Selfish Bastards!
Denise Harris - 08-30-2011 at 07:40 am
I can't believe this bunch of organized money grubbers have the gall to shove this nonsense right in the face of the American workers. Asking for a pay raise by saying they work too hard, or long hours. They are so out of touch with the real world. The American workers have endured layoffs, cut backs, lost wages and benefits but still get up every day and go to work 8 to 12 hours a day. We don't moan and groan that we are underpaid all because of the ineptness of Congress we are now just thankful to have a job. How dare they say the need a raise when with the benefits,salaries and perks makes them well paid. Besides, they knew what the job paid when they ran for that position. If it wasn't enough money for them then why did they take it? Something smell rotten in D.C and it's another sneaky dealings by our fearless leaders getting their's first before the honest hard working Americans. Disgusting!
Gary Frisard - 08-30-2011 at 08:12 am
well bless these poor souls hearts.I really find it hard to believe a household can't live off of 174,000 ayear plus a healthy FRINGE package. Come on an smell the real world. Myself and my husband have 60 weeks plus our 3 childrens needs that have to be met. No matter how or if the bills get paid these kids have to have their needs met.Our household makes close to 33,000 a year. So i guess you no i want be voting on,any raises for any of you.When u can do what i do with the little we have i may concider feeling sorry for you all.
Brandi - 08-30-2011 at 08:54 am
There's a problem with this lame stream survey so I didn't vote. The survey didn't include, are they now paid too much and shouldn't they have taken a pay cut as they are the main ones that are responsible for all of this mess?

A tiny hint here, never, ever, include only two possibilities in your surveys,
We the public taxpayers are smart enough to understand that the sharpest pencils in the box, are not in the present political system that we employ but have little control.
Trouble is, It's this union backed policy of having no term limits and no true facts provided of candidates political campaign funds received and used and exactly from where, whom or what nation, their priorities are for.
Never, was it meant for all lawyers to control politics.

If you have money, you have a voice in the media. If you give secretly and live modestly, you type truth and label it sci-fi. and donate 70 percent of your author proceeds to children's cancer patents.
It's a personal thing I do. You know, the ones you never hear about in the lame stream.
Please, go to and adopt a sick child of your own to monitor. It's a real good cause.
Thanks for allowing my rant.
If I say, God Bless America, I also mean, God Bless the little Children, all over the World.
Eric Wilkins - 08-30-2011 at 09:07 am
Taxpayers should be informed before any wage increases for CONGRESS....In fact there should be a review and maybe a wage cut because of there performance.......They work for us not the lobbist
Frank Maita - 08-30-2011 at 09:46 am
I believe Congress needs to have an immediate 20% reduction in salary and Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3% only when Social Security benefits are raised. Their retirement benefits must be immediately changed to equal that of the private-sector worker with the same type of contributions a private-sector employer would pay into their employees’ 401(k) plans.
George Dark - 08-30-2011 at 10:36 am
they our getting paid to much for Not doing there job!
Pastor C. K. Crutcher - 08-30-2011 at 10:41 am
I wish that my husband & I could bring in half of what Congress makes. My husband's hours & pay have been cut back. These members who claim they live from paycheck to paycheck need to re-evaluate thier spending or sell thier mansions & buy a smaller house or sell thier fancy cars & buy cheaper cars. They need to actually work & earn the $174,000.00 they are payed. What happened to creating jobs for the out of work people. Congress needs to quit whining about thier pay, they need to take a cut in pay just like everyone else has to, you are not a special breed of people & don't deserve special treatment.
Claudette - 08-30-2011 at 11:18 am
It is amazing I wish I was making 174,000 a yr when I was working i only recived $000.05 raise I had to do the job of 2 people or get fired. I think we need the same in Gov\\\'\\\' let them do the work of three and get rid of desad weight. we are supposed to live with in our means. I was forced into early 1120.00 minous 115.00 for medicade 905.00 to pay my mortage of 900.15. pluse my other bills I haevn\\\'t had vacation in 30yrs. why don\\\'t I recive the rest of my money 1500.00???? and they cannot live on their sallery look at thehomeless and jobless some choose to live that way and others are the result of poor Gov\\\'t and a president who does not care and cannot lead. a Christian nation todet out of DEBIT.
Richard Rehkopf - 08-30-2011 at 11:29 am
How can we stop them giving themselves a raise? Also, why should they get different healthcare from everyone else?
They are suppose to be representing US, right?
Joan - 08-30-2011 at 01:09 pm
I hope they don't have the gall to vote themselves a pay raise or even accept a COLA raise. Given the job they are doing, they don't deserve it.
Natalie Leath - 08-30-2011 at 01:22 pm
they are over paid for the little they do.all they think about is the health care they receive.make them paid fpr there health and transportion.
james polk - 08-30-2011 at 03:10 pm
sir:all politcal are public servants.servants are not suppose to mkae more money then tax look at the situation,country is broke,in debt and cause is by all these servants who made a mess,getting paid for then the owners(tax payers)and simply do not care as long as they are eating and having life.this apply to demcratic and republican both.we tried both and both are pootly doing job and need new young educated political party who cares for a beautiful USA...God helps..soon
pat - 08-30-2011 at 03:29 pm
I think with the way you run this country and the shoddy work you do you all need to be fired. You are a public servant why should you make more than the people that hired you make? You think your struggeling on your pay try any one of ours
Tina - 08-30-2011 at 05:26 pm
are you kidding?a raise how about giving some back? this congress is the worst in us history and now they want more $$$$$.how about doing something to earn that money.its because of this congress and the pathetic way they allowed this country to be robbed by big banks and bail outs that i will never again pay federal or state taxes again,you have done nothing to deserve a F---ing penny from me.
todd - 08-30-2011 at 05:53 pm
We need to cut their pay A LOT!!
Also, we need to quit sending money to other countries, for who knows what? If we are broke, we can't pay other countries!!
Sarah Heineken - 08-30-2011 at 05:56 pm
I think they get paid to much for what they do. They should remember the words of JFK. Ask not what your country can do for you, But what you can do for your country. If they are not happy with the pay or how things are going. Than go back home and go back to work like the rest of the people. I'm not a will educated man but I could run the country better better then most of them. Thanks
kevin l. droz - 09-01-2011 at 10:57 am
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