The United States Congress is accountable for providing a balanced budget and in tough economic times it is inevitable that cuts must occur. However, the cuts should be proportioned, fair, and just. Every American should contribute to producing and maintaining a balanced budget for our nation. This includes Congress, each member of which currently earns at least $174,000 per year. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the mean household income in 2008 (the most recent year for which data is available) was $52,029. It is estimated that only 34% of individuals in America earn more than $65,000 per year and only 5% earn more than $166,200 per year, while members of Congress earn a minimum salary of $174,000 per year. Congressional leadership salaries are as high as $223,500 per year! Additionally, Congressional members cost the country staggering amounts in travel and business expenses, guaranteed health benefits for life, as well as vesting in a guaranteed retirement pension after a minimum of five years of service. Congress automatically receives an annual cost of living increase unless it votes not to do so.
It is not appropriate for Congressional members to be among the top 5% of wage earners in America. Members of Congress should earn incomes that reflect what the average working class American earns and should receive the same healthcare and retirement benefits that the average working class American receives. Expense accounts for Congressional members should be reduced or eliminated. In short, Congress should make sacrifices, just as it is asking every working class American to sacrifice in some way. I ask you to take immediate action and enact government reform that demonstrates Congress is capable of leading America through an economic crisis and towards a balanced budget.