Section 6, paragraph one deals with Congressional compensation for their services. Many years ago, Congress enacted standing legislation to provide them with regular pay raises UNLESS Congress, at the time of EACH particular raise, actively raises the issue and votes against it. This is one of the examples I was referring to when I talked about how Congress makes what will be their path of least resistance be what benefits them, rather than the people. Thus, if Congress does NOTHING, is silent and doesn’t even raise the issue, they get their raise each year. In ADDITION, they get unbelievable pensions based on how long they served as well as life time healthcare.
To me, this is another simple issue to deal with. Tie the salaries of ALL federally elected officials to the median incomes of the American people, not counting bonuses or other backdoor ways of hitching things a little higher for them. Based on the real and reported income of all citizens who file income tax reports, divided by ALL citizens, let’s say that (as a starting point for discussion), members of the House would receive an annual salary based on what 60% of the median incomes of all Americans equals to, with Officers of The House getting 62.5%. Members of The Senate would get a salary based on 65% of the median income, with Senate officers getting 67.5%. Members of the Supreme Court would get 70% of the median, with The Chief Justice and The Vice President getting 72.5%. Finally, the highest salary allowed would go to The President, with the salary of that office being based on the 75% of the median incomes of all Americans.
Now, I want everyone to notice something. I did NOT say that these salaries should be based on mean, or AVERAGE incomes (the total of all incomes divided by the total number of people), I said that they would b based on the MEAN incomes. The mean is a statistical average based on the individual numbers which are ranked from highest to lowest. Thus, Bill Gates is only one statistical number, while a disabled elderly person who has an annual income of $5,000 is another individual number equal to Bill Gates. A median average would give a much more accurate picture of how much average Americans earn and tie the salaries of Constitutional and elected Federal officials to that average.
So, what would THIS accomplish? Several things; for one, it would make elected Federal officials more caring about how much money the American people have because their own welfare would be improved by having more people earning (and reporting) higher incomes. In fact, the more income earned by those at the bottom quarter, half and three-quarter marks of the social ladder, the higher the income they would make themselves. For another, it would increase their focus on eliminating loopholes which allow people to underreport their own incomes. The fiscal conservatives tend to support theories which state that there is a finite amount of REAL income (as opposed to, say, capital income) which is available. Thus, to raise the income levels of those at the lower ends of the social ladder would mean that the additional monies would have to come at the expense of the earnings of those at the top of the social ladder. For yet another thing, the more money earned by AND KEPT by corporations and businesses is money that is NOT increasing the income levels of the bottom three-quarters of the income bracket. This would make Congress more likely to support higher individual wages and eliminate more corporate loopholes. Again, the more money earned by the most people would benefit them personally… and if the incomes of average Americans goes down, so does theirs. We would all swim or sink together. Their pay rates would be worked out and modified every two calendar years to coincide with election cycles.
As for pensions and permanent healthcare, I do not believe that people should make holding elective or political offices their primary livelihoods. I am against, as I have said before, a professional political class. I believe in the founders’ idea of people who would make sacrifices in their own lives of short periods of time to serve their nation with their public service and would then go back to their public lives. Thus, ANY elected official, or any official who is subject to Senate approval would not earn ANY pension or retirement benefits for their time in service. Regarding members of The Supreme Court, I will deal with them in the part(s) of this article which deal with Article III of The Constitution.
Section 6, paragraph two is the one that says that no Senator or Representative can hold another civil office in The United States during their tenure in their respective House, and that no officer or official of The United States can serve as a Senator or Representative while they hold their other office or position. This, among other things, is what prevents us from having a Parliamentary system of government and ensures that the membership of each branch of government will be totally and completely distinct and separate from the others. It also says that:
“No Senator or Representative shall… be appointed to any civil office under the authority of The United States which shall have been CREATED, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been Increased during such time [as they served as a Senator or Representative]…”
THIS portion of The Constitution does need to be addressed to clarify, one way or the other, what authority the Executive branch does or doesn’t have to appoint sitting or recently sitting members of Congress to other civil positions … especially with automatic pay raises being provided for all such civil offices. Either our Constitution very specifically prohibits this and it is accepted by all members of our government or we change it. I personally would rather leave it as it is and expect our government to abide by such limitations.
Well, I think this is a good place to end this part of this article. When we come back, I will address the rest of Article III, including legislation to raise revenue, the budget, and the enumerated powers and authorities of Congress.
(This article will be continued in Part III [d], which will continue discussing Article I of The Constitution.)
Rhys M. Blavier
“Truth, Justice and Honor… but, above all, Honor”
© Copyright 2009 by Rhys M. Blavier
Thank you for reading this article. Please read my other articles and let me know what you think. I am writing them not to preach or to hear myself think but to try to create dialogs, debates and discussions on the nature of our government and how we can build upon and improve it based on what we have seen and learned over the course of the 225 years of The American Experiment.