Congress: The Roman Orgy of perks and benefits

Posted on February 25, 2011

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Out of the 435 members in the current House of Representatives only 174 have not missed a single vote, and some have missed between 40 and 50 percent of the votes.

The House took 103 roll call votes on the “prevent government shutdown” fears. The resolution passed at 4:40 a.m. Saturday after five days of votes on amendments, including roll call votes on 23 amendments Thursday, 35 on Friday and 21 before the vote Saturday. The roll calls show that 174 House members have not missed a single vote so far during the 112th Congress. Of the remaining 261 House members, 158 have missed at least 37% of the votes they were elected to act upon.

Freshman Democrats Betty McCollum of Minnesota and Ruben Hinojosa of Texas, and Freshman Republican Ben Quayle of Arizona missed 56 votes each. Freshman Democrats Jane Harman of California and Gary Peters of Michigan, and Republican Ron Paul of Texas each missed 43 votes.

I think we’re allowed to give Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords a pass for having not voted since she was shot in the head during an assassination attempt in Tucson in January. And Ron Paul was attending the funeral of the husband of his friend and district director, so I’m not inclined to fault him. There’s no record of where Harman, Hinojosa, McCollum or Quayle were. But it sure is interesting that these four “fireball” newcomers – especially the Tea Partiers – have so quickly boarded the Shirker Express in Washington.

Add the fact that Congress’ pay and benefits are *exempt from government shutdown” … i.e., they continue collecting their $174,000 paycheck and choke-a-horse perks package no matter what happens after the government’s funding runs out next Friday.

Also add that Congress is exempt from whatever health care requirements or Medicare/Medicaid cuts they impose on taxpayers because they gave themselves the choice to “opt in” on public health care or take the taxpayer-funded premium plan offered to all Congressional officials.

Also add that Congress is exempt from whatever impact the stock market has on 401k/retirement/savings accounts because they gave themselves the choice to “opt in” on Social Security and commercial 401k programs or take the more lucrative taxpayer-funded premium plan offered to all Congressional officials.

Also add that Congress has exempted itself from TSA travel rules, restrictions, security scans and pat-downs, as long as they’re traveling with a taxpayer-funded personal security detail.

Also add that members of Congress automatically draw a percentage of their salary for life after leaving office. That pension ranges from a minimum of 28% up to 80%, depending on their length of time in office. (Note: 28% of $174,000 is $48,720.)

Also add that every member of Congress is paid per diem, free travel, free postage, free health club/spa memberships, free retirement (i.e., they don’t pay in), and all expenses such as cell phones, meals, bottled water, clothing allowances – even shoe polishing – are all paid by you and I.

And get this: Congress even exempted itself from THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT!

So Congress sits up on their golden thrones, deciding how much bread they’re going to take off your table, and what bargain rights someone who works 80-hours a week will be allowed to have, and how much Americans must sacrifice for the sake of improving the economy — while they relish in a veritable Roman orgy of money, perks and benefits.

It’s getting closer and closer to torches and pitchforks in the street outside the Capitol Building.

But there *is* good news: Ace Hardware is having a “20% Off” sale all this week.

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