Obama Gives Congress an Undeserved Pay Raise

The White House and Congress have until January 1 to reach a deal and avoid the looming fiscal cliff with tax hikes and deep spending cuts. There is a clear partisan divide in Washington that has led to political back-and-forth and theatrics.

However, things just got a whole lot more interesting on December 27 as President Obama signed an executive order that will have members of Congress and other federal workers see a 0.5% pay rise after March 27.

Congress members and senators who make $174,000 per year will see an additional $900 in their annual pay packages. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will get a salary of $224,600, up $1,100. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) will see their pay jump $1,000 to $194,400. And Vice President Joe Biden will now be bringing home $231,900 before taxes next year.

The last time Congress members saw a pay increase was in 2009.  This probably makes sense considering Congress' job approval ratings. Since Gallup started their poll in 1974, Congress' average approval rating is 33%. However, over the past few years, Congress' approval ratings have not even reached the 33% average.

Congress hit record-low 10% approval ratings in February and August 2011. Now, as the fiscal cliff deadline nears, Congress is only sitting at an 18% job approval rating with the American public.

If leaders in Washington don't reach a deal by January 1, Congress' approval rating could also nose dive off the cliff. The clock is ticking.

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Adam Jutha

B.S. Public Health - Health Policy and Management from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Former member of the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network. Interests lie in health care policy, international development, and politics.

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