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Captiv8



Joined: 25 Aug 2006
Posts: 8547
Location: Third Coast
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Exactly. What kind of sense does that make? In what other job can you work for four years and then receive that pay as a retirement package for the rest of your life? That is absurd, and a slap in the face to the majority of working Americans, who put in decades of service before they can even get close to retiring. And then their retirment may be taken away, reduced, or benefits might be restructured on a whim. Congress needs to be totally revamped. The problem is that Congress has made it so that only they can actually see that process through. Or the president can issue an executive order, but I can see that being stonewalled for years until whatever president has the sack to do it is out of office. The whole thing is appaling. Never before has a group given itself so much power, basically establishing a permanent position of entrenchment that would take a miracle to reform. As I see it, that kind of power-reification is the definition of authoritarian.
Post Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:22 am
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3flip



Joined: 30 Dec 2003
Posts: 2201
Location: Minneapolis
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Not defending congressional pension, but we should at least have our facts straight.

http://www.politifact.com/rhode-island/statements/2011/may/29/chain-email/email-message-says-members-congress-get-full-pensi/
Post Fri Oct 04, 2013 1:39 pm
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mzehe916



Joined: 04 Aug 2006
Posts: 4543
Location: Switzerland
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Facts smacts!! I want to be angry!!! Arrgghhhh!
Post Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:09 pm
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phataccino



Joined: 10 Jan 2004
Posts: 4772
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There's enough rich assholes in Congress as it is. If they didn't get paid then ONLY people who can afford to work for free would run for Congress. The result would be that the makeup of Congress would change from mostly all independently wealthy old white dudes to just about 100 percent independently wealthy old white dudes, which would be some bullshit.
Post Fri Oct 04, 2013 6:52 pm
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Captiv8



Joined: 25 Aug 2006
Posts: 8547
Location: Third Coast
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Then you keep the salary minimal so that working for Congress is not profitable. The debate on this topic clearly indicates that the compensation structure of Congress needs to be remodeled. I don't want people representing me who only express a privileged background, and who are more amenable to lobbyists than what is best for the nation. I want much more representation from the grassroots perspective, people that adhere to a communal, as opposed to individual, view of power distribution.

Take Michigan's two senators, for example. Carl Levin, bless him, went to Swarthmore and Harvard Law School. He's also been in office since fucking 1979. That kind of run should not be allowed, as incumbency prevents more in-touch individuals from taking a senate position and making more contemporary (one hopes) decisions. Debbie Stabenow is much more local, with degrees from Michigan State, and I like that. Still, I imagine she'll stick around in Congress for far too long, much like Levin, well after new blood is needed. And it's precisely that kind of career mentality, in which senators and representatives typically dwell, that is harmful, or at least not helpful. I'm not asking for a revolving door of political figures, but I'd like to see term limits introduced.

Edit: What 3flip's post indicates (and I'll admit I was indeed operating with false information) is that a Congress person still must make a career out of the position in order to receive a worthwhile pension. I don't think that's a useful mentality, as mentioned above. I say that every Senator has a max of two terms, and that Representatives are held to the same standard, but that we expand the length of their terms to six years as well. A two year term for the latter means almost constant campaigning for re-election.
Post Sat Oct 05, 2013 8:46 am
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Mark in Minnesota



Joined: 02 Jan 2004
Posts: 2019
Location: Saint Louis Park, MN
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I disagree almost completely.
1. The vast majority of representatives and senators are already taking a pay cut by holding public office.
2. Inexperience is a real problem in both chambers of Congress. The key architects of this deplorable shutdown were mostly sent to Congress in 2010 pr 2012. It's certainly possible for politicians to get out of touch but na´vete hurts us just as much.
3. Term limits would condemn us to politicians using their time in office to improve their standing in the private sector. See also Dick Cheney and Halliburton.
4. Term limits accompanied by six year terms also mean that many members of Congress will be there for six fucking years with no fear of backlash from the electorate.
5. We shouldn't talk about pensions like they're a bad thing. Way more jobs should offer them.

If anything I think we should try to optimize for a system that's more performance driven. Tie a percentage of Congress's compensation to things like balanced budgets, achievements in debt reduction, national GDP growth, student achievement, poverty levels, etc. Even penalize the Senate financially for allowing too many confirmed seats to remain vacant.

We need to reform the filibuster in the Senate, and we need to reform the basic structure of leadership positions in the House. I'd like to see the House able to send a bill to the Senate that, with the President's signature, compels the Senate to have a vote on something (confirmations, amendments, passage of laws, etc) by a certain date. Similarly I'd like the Senate and the President to be able to compel the House in the same way. The Hastert Rule needs to end.
Post Sat Oct 05, 2013 9:38 am
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Captiv8



Joined: 25 Aug 2006
Posts: 8547
Location: Third Coast
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Ever the voice of logic and reason, Mark. I think the solution you offer is more viable, and certainly more amenable, to the way Congress is currently structured. Implementing it is another thing altogether, of course, and I don't know how that would happen. I guess I'm offering up something more altruistic, and you are discussing something pragmatic. The only clear point is that reform is necessary.
Post Sat Oct 05, 2013 10:10 am
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Captiv8



Joined: 25 Aug 2006
Posts: 8547
Location: Third Coast
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Also, in response to what you've written:

1. I don't care about people in Congress taking pay cuts. As far as I know, every member of Congress have a college degree, if not an advanced degree, and have some sort of political network in place already. I am not worried about their ability to put food on the table. Paycuts only really matter to people that don't have a lot of money, or a means of making a lot of money, in the first place.

2. Inexperience is not the same as ideological adherence. Inexperience will likely cause some mistakes, sure, but the biggest problem with the shutdown is a difference of ideology. This is a character thing that COULD be rectified over time, but the fundamental problem rests with a conflictual attitude between parties. In other words, there is a lack of cooperation between Congress members because of other party platforms or individual belief systems. Again, this is to the detriment of the nation.

3. Maybe. But this is assuming that the old guard remains in place, something I was proposing a change by asserting the important of grassroots politicians focused on the community and not themselves. That's a difficult change to enact, I realize, but I think it's a necessary one. This issue also rests with the mentality and goals of the political figure. If the system remains conducive to the pursuit of personal interests, then of course it will be primarily populated with politicians that exploit that opportunity.

4. Same as three, with the caveat that the electorate can remove non-performing Congress members. This shouldn't be an easy process either way, as petitions for removal should be based in the point you mention about specific goal-oriented statistics. What has the Congress member achieved? What have the done nothing about? Are they actually achieving negative results? And so forth.

5. I'm in agreement with you about pensions. They are not a bad thing at all, and have long been the carrot at the end of the labor stick. I think that working for X amount of years should entitle an individual to X amount of financial benefits as a reward for service. But, as you state, they should be incentive based. The greater a person's performance, based on a number of parameters, the greater their pension should be. I don't think a Congressional pension should be developed based on years of service alone. I want them to be based on actual, quantifiable accomplishments.

And again, all of this indicates that Congress is broken in terms of how it functions for the nation. It is working all to well in favor of Congressional members. Reform is long overdue.
Post Sat Oct 05, 2013 10:34 am
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27



Joined: 02 Feb 2003
Posts: 895
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I'm sure our beloved politicians are going to be just fine financially. Like dude said, they got money.
Post Sun Oct 06, 2013 6:47 am
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Mark in Minnesota



Joined: 02 Jan 2004
Posts: 2019
Location: Saint Louis Park, MN
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CBO estimates are up: http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/ContinuingAppropriationsAct2014.pdf
Total regular appropriation outlays, annualized, millions of dollars: 1,141,515.

The CBO indicates specifically that the income verification tests are not anticipated to impact the budget, and those are being reported as the "sole concession" won by the GOP over the shutdown.

CBO estimate for the previous CR that the Senate sent to the House in September, precipitating this shutdown: http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/Senate%20Amendment%20No%20%201974%20to%20H%20%20J%20%20Res%20%2059%20Summary%20by%20SCOM.pdf

Total regular appropriation outlays, annualized, millions of dollars: 1,141,477.

The cost of government in what the Senate offered the House before the shutdown is actually lower than what the House eventually accepted to end the shutdown. The GOP didn't just fail to negotiate spending cuts as a condition of raising the debt ceiling: In raising it, spending actually increased by 38 million dollars.

So, to summarize:
1. The non-partisan accountants responsible for reviewing economic impacts of proposed policy say that making it harder to get the Obamacare subsidies won't save the government any meaningful amount of money.
2. These income verification tests have no benefit for Americans unless they save the government money.
3. In the three weeks it took the House to decide that those income verification tests were the only thing they could get in exchange for re-opening the government and raising the debt ceiling, the costs of just re-authorizing the budget went up by 38 million dollars.
4. The exigencies of the shutdown included the following advice to elderly people who rely on federal nutrition assistance: water down your milk and soup so as to make your food last longer.
5. So, what did that 38 million dollars and the shutdown itself buy us? Small-government common sense fiscal conservatives shut down the government for two and a half weeks so that they could make it harder for middle class Americans to get a tax break against the cost of their health insurance.
6. Instead of actually cutting spending, eliminating government waste, or moving toward a balanced budget, they actually moved us incrementally away from one.

And most of those House Republicans, impotent and ineffectual and demonstrably incapable of anything resembling statesmanship, are going to go home to their districts to be seen as martyrs and be voted back into office by high margins next year.
Post Thu Oct 17, 2013 3:36 pm
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