Wednesday, November 23

Because it's expensive to be a lying, manipulative, cold-hearted hypocrite

The saddest part about this is that it's not even surprising. After all, it has happened for eight straight years. But it seems like this year -- when the U.S.'s budget is bloated but stretched thin, the deficit is ballooning, there are devastated regions all over the country that need assistance, the war in Iraq is driving us deeper into debt, and the baby boomers are on the verge of retiring and crippling our health care system and economy -- would be a good year for Congress to take a principled stand and take one for the proverbial team. But, I guess that's not really their bag.

Late last week -- amid the sexier and more dramatic Iraq pullout vote -- Congress abandoned the "let's-not-raise-our-pay-while-Katrina-and-Iraq-and-stuff-are-draining-our-resources" mentality it held just last month, which was also the same time that they voted down a minimum wage increase. Congress' pay is raised automatically each year, so they have to purposely block the increase if they don't want it to take effect. The Senate did, but the House didn't. So, yippee, pay raises for everyone (except the poor). Tack $3,100 onto everyone's salary and you get an estimated $165,200 a year for your fine lawmakers (not counting the free meals and transportation and other perks).

Let's let Michael Crowley from The New Republic explain it:

... [Last month] senators waxed eloquent about how it was the decent thing to do at a time of budget cuts, the Iraq war, and hurricane relief. But evidently the House didn't feel so magnanimous--gas prices are way up, you know!--and the lower chamber ignored the Senate action. The Senate apparently didn't care enough to actually pick a fight with the House over this (or, quite likely, that was the plan all along), so in the end everyone's getting a raise after all.

What a romantic, heart-warming tale. Bloumph. Ew, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

I'm ashamed that the Democrats didn't take this opportunity to make a difference -- not just a practical difference, but an ideological difference -- that would set them apart from Republicans. Their cowardice and greed deserve the harshest scorn we can muster.

(Cross-posted at The Southern Scholar)


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