NEWS FROM THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY
2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Suite 100
Washington DC 20037
For release: June 12, 1998
For additional information:
George Getz, Press Secretary
Phone: (202) 333-0008 Ext. 222
Warning! Congress is conspiring to sneak through another salary hike
WASHINGTON, DC -- Congress's attempt to sneak through its second pay raise in less than a year is "unprecedented, unethical, and underhanded," says the Libertarian Party, which has joined a coalition to fight the $3,554 pay hike.
"These politicians aren't just pickpockets -- they're repeat offenders," said Steve Dasbach, national chairman of the Libertarian Party. "We fought their last salary grab every step of the way, and we'll do so again."
According to the Associated Press, House Speaker Newt Gingrich asked Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, in a private meeting, if Democrats would quietly go along with a scheme to raise their pay by $3,554 without "stirring up an election-year controversy."
Last year, Republicans and Democrats worked together to sneak a $3,072 raise into the bill funding general government operations, without taking a formal vote. The two pay hikes combined would fatten Congressional salaries to a generous $140,254 a year, starting in January.
"Only politicians would arrogate to themselves the power to raise their own pay -- then jack it up twice in five months," Dasbach said. "Sneaky salary increases have become Washington DC's favorite white collar crime."
To fight the pay raise, the Libertarian Party has joined a nationwide coalition led by the Congressional Accountability Project. Other members of the coalition include Citizens Against Government Waste, the Free Congress Foundation, Taxpayers for Common Sense, U.S. Term Limits, and the Reform Party.
The group signed a letter to Gingrich and Gephardt blasting the pay hike as an "arrogant, greedy, corrupt affront to the American taxpayers which will undercut your moral authority to govern," and demanded that Congress "publicly reject this pay raise."
"Our coalition opposed the last Congressional pay raise -- and 95% of the American public supported us," Dasbach said. "But our so-called representatives blithely ignored us and pocketed the money anyway. This time, we will make them pay a political price if they pull off another salary heist."
During the last 10 years, Dasbach noted, "Representatives gave themselves five raises and Senators six -- which works out to a mind-boggling $47,172 salary increase."
Dasbach also noted that:
* If the raise goes through, politicians will get a raise that's eight times as large as the average American got last year -- $6,626 compared to $846, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
* Congressional pay would be nearly quadruple the median American family income of $37,000.
* Contrary to claims by Congress that high salaries are needed to give private-sector employees an incentive to run for office, 92% of incoming Congressional representatives got a raise when they were elected in 1996.
"Americans are getting tired of politicians' claims that they're just 'serving' the public, when they're really just serving themselves," Dasbach said. "This second pay raise would be two too many, and it's time taxpayers put a stop to it."
The Libertarian Party
2600 Virginia Ave. NW, Suite 100
Washington DC 20037
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