Congressional Salary — The Misguided Cause

I have observed a graphic going around that expresses the sentiment stating “Pay Congress Minimum Wage.” I feel the need to respond to this. The problem is not the wage earned by Congress, it is the money they must raise to run for office, and run for re-election. It is the overwhelming cost of being considered a viable candidate, leading men and women who begin with good intentions and the desire to be honest public servants toward the interests of those who can finance their campaigns. Worse now due to certain court decisions, they must now have enough money to fight against unlimited funds that can be used against them by the almighty Super-PACs. A good person sees a set of issues that tug on one’s passion to serve. They are then faced with proving themselves — not primarily with the ideas or values that spark the fire in their soul — but with the judgement of how much of a financial “war-chest” they can manage to build. Perhaps the fire exuded is enough to earn them a place in a small state Legislature, but the moment they begin to look like the elected official that got there on the merit of their message, the special interests (on both sides) that don’t like to see things shaken up begin their assault, and the only defense in today’s environment is enough money to fight it.
No, the wage of Congress is not the issue. Honestly, I would prefer that the people we elect to make the big decisions be paid enough by the people they represent so that they can focus on their jobs instead of the minimum wage they earn. Not to mention, minimum wage for Congress would mean that only those that have enough wealth to not have their Congressional salary be an issue already would run for Congress, forcing out anyone who cares enough to want to run but can’t afford to live on that wage.
The issue is easy access for wealthy donors. The issue is the idea that money is speech. Freedom of speech is shredded when those with more in the bank are given more “speech.” When you make the speech of one person more valuable than another, that freedom ceases to be the free speech written into our Constitution.
I appreciate the sentiment that goes into such a statement “Pay Congre$$ Minimum Wage.” We want our elected officials to have a grasp on the livelihoods of average working Americans. Paying them a lower salary would only result in exasperating an already troubled system where too many big money interests control the votes.

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1 Comment

Filed under Politics

One response to “Congressional Salary — The Misguided Cause

  1. martinezrenuncio

    A very smart and thoughtful response. Bumper stickers may show a particular sentiment. Ie trying to argue that Congress should feel poor people’s suffering but in actuality can it achieve the desired results. Sometimes yes. Sometimes no.

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