I purposely avoid politics in my blogs and newsletters, mostly because I can find more interesting things to write about. Also, we are just bombarded with it 24/7 via the media and social media (our President actually Tweets), so why would you want to read about that stuff from me? But today I am making an exception.
I’ve been seeing something coming from my friends on both sides of the aisle that I hope gains traction. In a nutshell, people are suggesting that if our elected officials had to live under the same rules and programs that we, the electorate, have to, they would find ways to work together and make them better. If the Senators and Congressmen all had to rely on Social Security for their retirement, I can guarantee you they would find a way to fund it beyond 2030. Or if they had to get their health insurance from “the exchange,” like we do, and pay the same premiums as we do, they would be busting their tails right now to fix it.
While I can’t blame our founding fathers for this mess, they did set some type of precedent. In 1787, while members of Congress were actually deliberating how all our government would work, they were working under the Articles of Confederation. Members of that Congress received varying salaries from their individual states and if the state legislature became dissatisfied with one of its representatives in that Continental Congress, it could simply suspend his salary. (There’s a unique idea. If you’re doing a lousy job, no pay).
On September 14, 1789, a panel from the House of Representatives recommended compensation of six dollars for each day a member attended a session. (Another unique idea. You don’t show up for work, you don’t get paid). According to records, when the House carried the pay bill to the Senate, the Senators carried on a heated debate. Robert Morris, the Senator from Pennsylvania moved that senators should receive $2 more a day than House members so that they wouldn’t have to live in substandard boarding houses and associate with “improper company.” Sort of sounds like, “I’m OK with you living that way, but I’m going to give myself some more money so I don’t have to.”
Apparently the House was solidly opposed to this higher pay scale for Senators (there’s a surprise), so the Senate agreed to drop their salary down to only $7 a day, but it wouldn’t take effect for another six years. (I guess they felt they could put up with substandard boarding houses and “improper company” for a while, but no longer than six years).
Now, back in those days, Congress usually only met for a couple of months each year. So, if you assumed that they were in session each day (60 days total), each Congressman and Senator could get $360 for his services. Now, he had to pay his own room and board and any other expenses out of that and when the session was over, he had to go back to his home and pick up doing what he regularly did for a living. $360 still wasn’t bad money back then because in those days a typical farm hand was making between $7 and $14 a month. Even back then, our elected officials couldn’t live like the common man. Frankly, most of those serving at this time were wealthy to begin with and didn’t need the $6 a day.
I believe that Reverend Mike has the solution. Congressmen get two 3 year terms; Senators get one 6 year term; The President and Vice President get one 6 year term. Salary only. No benefits such as retirement or medical insurance. When their term is up, they go back home and make a living like the rest of us!
These are the opinions of Mike Berry and not necessarily those of Cambridge, are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed or acted upon as individualized investment advice.
Mike Berry is a Registered Representative offering securities through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisor Representative, Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Legacy Wealth Management, LLC and Cambridge are not affiliated. Cambridge does not offer tax advice.
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