Congress Is So Awful Because It Needs a Raise

Daniel Schuman: If we want good lawmakers, we need to pay them more
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2013 12:14 PM CDT
Congress Is So Awful Because It Needs a Raise
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi applauds after handing the gavel to House Speaker John Boehner on Jan. 3, 2013.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

File this one at the opposite end of the spectrum as "throw the bums out." Daniel Schuman argues at Slate that we need to give Congress a hefty raise. The workload is way up thanks to slashed staffing levels, while salaries are way down relative to previous decades. What's more, the work environment is "poisonous," and lucrative pay awaits in the lobbying industry. No wonder we can't keep good lawmakers. "We get what we pay for, and there’s no question we are not paying enough to keep the best people on the job," writes Schuman.

Members of Congress make a base salary of $174,000, which is nothing to sneeze at, but those in office 20 years ago would have made $214,000 in today's dollars. Singapore provides a model: It has an uber-efficient government in part because it pays top government ministers seven-figure salaries. "If we want our representatives to work for us, we must pay them well enough to stay focused on the people’s business," writes Schuman. The same applies to their staff. "Right now we aren’t paying for quality work, and it shows." Click for Schuman's full column. (Read more Congress stories.)

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