Dear Member of Congress,
As you begin to debate on ways to decrease our national debt we request that you start by making significant changes in the congressional pay and pension systems. While many other cuts are necessary, cuts to congressional salaries and benefits will demonstrate to concerned citizens that you and other Members of Congress are also making sacrifices in this period of economic uncertainty.
We ask that you recommend a 10% salary cut for all members of Congress. Many Americans have seen their wages flatten out or decline and a large number are unemployed. We also strongly recommend that you propose cutting the overly generous congressional pension and benefit programs to bring them in line with what most workers in the private sector receive.
Members of Congress receive pay and benefits far in excess of the $50,875 average salary of working Americans. Members of Congress earn 3.4 times more than the average American. In addition to Congress’s 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 (which is attached to this letter) released by Our Generation in July 2011 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.
Due to the weak economy and high unemployment many Americans are forced to make do with less. Congress should follow suit and not continue to reward itself with such extravagant salaries and benefits. 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.
Our Generation is a non-partisan, nonprofit grassroots citizens group, dedicated to improving the lives of senior citizens through awareness and advocacy. I hope you find the above information useful and consider our viewpoints as you continue to serve in the U.S. Congress.