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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Legislative salaries

From time to time you will see a story about how horribly overpaid the people in congress are.  I disagree.

The salary of an MC (member of congress - aka congressman, congresswoman or the generic: congress critter) is $174,000 plus some regular insurance, pension, and SS matching call it 250 K.  The (legitimate) extras can come from speaking fees et cetera after they leave congress.  I have no problem with that or with Reagan or Clinton making a bundle after their presidencies.

Now consider the magnitude of their responsibilities.  One way to measure it is just the expenditures that they manage.  (Yes, sometimes they mismanage them.  But you should pay people based on the size of the job they are hired to handle, not based how some individuals have mishandled it.

The more informed readers can correct me if I am wrong, but I believe an individual in the private sector who managed a company with a revenue steam of $100 million would be paid well over $250,000.  That would be 0.25% of their budget.  

According to a study by the Chronicle of Higher Education private colleges spent an average of 0.4 % of their budgets on presidential salaries.

So what is the size of the budget that the Congress Critters manage?  About 3 trillion.  But, to be more than fair, we note that a lot of that is fixed, so we will cut it to 1 trillion.  There are two houses so we will divide it again and get 500 billion.  This would be about 5 billion per Senator and just over 1 billion for each Member of the House.  So 250,000 is what percentage of 1 billion?  It is 250,000 / 1,000,000,000 = .00025 which is 0.025% of the budget that they "manage" for Representatives and 0.005% for Senators. 

Think about how many executives in your district make more than your Congress Critter.


  1. I guess it's bad form to comment on something that hasn't been posted, but there's something I heard from a friend that's on topic with the headline for the post and I thought I should pass it along.

    My friend teaches high school math but also moonlights as a community college instructor. In one of his college classes, conversation turned to the national budget, and one of his students offered, "What we really need to do is cut congress' salaries in half. I mean, those guys make like $200,000. That would save us tens of millions of dollars."

    The good thing is that the student's arithmetic was roughy correct.

    The bad thing is that the student was convinced that this could really help solve the problem.

    That seems to say a lot about where we are right now.

  2. Of the criticisms I have of congress, the compensation package they receive is not one.