But the congressional exemption is targeted by two freshmen representatives, Republican Ron DeSantis of Florida and Democrat Ami Bera of California. Their “Sequestration of Pay for Members of Congress Act” would cut congressional salaries by 8.2 percent, the same as non-exempt federal spending is estimated to be reduced this fiscal year. The congressional cut would become effective November 2014 because of the 27th Amendment barring any change in compensation “until an election of representatives shall have intervened.”
DeSantis, 34, whose district includes Daytona Beach, St. Augustine and part of metro Jacksonville, has an impressive resume as a former U.S. Navy officer and prosecutor involved with the Gitmo terrorists and service in Iraq that earned him the Bronze Star. Bera, 47, a physician from California’s Sacramento County, is only the third Indian-American to win election to the House, having defeated a Republican incumbent.
When members of Congress “exempt themselves from the operation of the law, it’s not only unfair, but it also violates a core principle of republican government,” DeSantis said. “That is why I am introducing legislation to reduce pay for members of Congress at the first moment it is constitutionally permissible.” He threw in this zinger: “Congress must live under the same rules as everyone else; our Founding Fathers expected it and the American people demand it.”
Bera said: “As representatives, we should lead by example. It’s completely hypocritical for members of Congress to exempt themselves from across-the-board spending cuts, while the American people are bearing the burden of those cuts. Real leadership begins with accountability.” Amen.
Now we shall see how far these upstart freshmen get with their pay cut for Congress, starting with how many/few colleagues sign on. Don’t count on this bill going anywhere.
There’s no sign that President Obama is going to take a voluntary 8.2 percent pay cut — the least he could do to show empathy with all the federal employees who will take cuts under the $85 billion sequestration. Nor has there been any word from the White House that the vacationer-in-chief will cut back on his ultra-expensive air travel for vacations and non-stop campaigning.
In an ABC TV interview, Obama hinted at maybe restoring the White House tours but only for school groups. He dodged responsibility for the shutdown, saying the Secret Service was going “to furlough some folks.” That would mean losing “a day of work and a day of pay.” He said he was asking the Secret Service “are there ways, for example, for us to accommodate school groups, you know who may have traveled here with some bake sales.”
Translation: The unnecessary shutdown of White House tours and the fear-mongering on sequestration — tactics to force Republican surrender on tax hikes — has backfired as evidenced by Obama sinking in the polls.