Press Release 9-15-2011

Our Generation Sends Coalition Letter to “Super Committee” Recommending Congressional Salary Cuts

(Alexandria, V.A.) –Today, Our Generation, along with four other advocacy groups including Taxpayers Protection Alliance, National Taxpayers Union, Center for Fiscal Accountability and Americans for Tax Reform sent a letter to the 12 members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction urging them to cut members of Congress salaries by 10 percent, which would save nearly $100 million over the next 10 years..  The letter reads as follows:

“On behalf of the millions of taxpayers the undersigned organizations represent, we request that you make significant changes in the congressional pay and pension systems as you craft legislative proposals to decrease our national debt by $1.5 trillion over the next decade.  As you know, the record deficit that our country faces is a result of years of fiscally irresponsible behavior, which has included automatic pay increases for members of Congress.  We implore you to show leadership and recommend cutting the salaries of all members of Congress by at least 10 percent.  This action is especially important at a time when many Americans have seen their wages flatten out or decline, and a large number are unemployed.  We also ask that you propose cutting the overly generous congressional pensions and benefit programs and bring them in line with what most workers in the private sector receive.

“The first step was taken in the past year when a congressionally-supported two-year federal pay freeze was instituted.  Also, since 2010, Congress has shown fiscal responsibility by cutting their office budgets.  Unfortunately the salaries and benefits that members of Congress receive remain untouched.

“Members of Congress receive pay and benefits far in excess of what average working Americans receive. With the average full-time employee in the United States earning $50,875 annually, members of Congress make 3.4 times more than the average American. But in addition to that base salary of $174,000 per year – which puts legislators among the highest-paid five percent of U.S. workers – members of Congress receive overly generous fringe benefits.  In fact, a recent report determined that congressional compensation, including benefits, totals around $285,000 per year.  More strikingly, of developed countries in the OECD, the U.S. pays their federal legislators the second highest in the world, second only to Japan. In a market-based economy, compensation packages can and should vary widely, but because Congress’s pay and perks are underwritten with tax dollars, lawmakers have a special obligation of accountability to the citizens who are required to foot the bill.

“During a weak economic recovery with high unemployment and many Americans being forced to make do with less, Congress should not continue to reward itself with extravagant salaries and benefits.  As you begin your work on ways to reduce the debt, consider this: a 10 percent cut to congressional salaries would result in nearly $100 million in savings over a ten year period, and cuts in benefits would result in an even greater amount of savings.  While many other cuts are also needed to have the necessary impact on the national debt, cuts to congressional salaries and benefits will demonstrate to Americans that their elected officials in Washington, D.C. are also making sacrifices in this period of economic uncertainty.

“We appreciate your consideration of this recommendation.”

Our Generation, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization founded in 2009 to research, educate and promote long-term free market solutions to today’s public policy concerns.