Friday, May 4, 2012

Indentured Politicians - What's in it for Them??

I came across an interesting term recently, new to me but maybe not to you. It really explains a LOT! The term is "Indentured Politicians". Does that need any explanation? LOL.

But just in case it needs explanation, "indentured politicians" are those who "owe favors" to the big contributors to their election campaigns, and the politicians return the "favor" by voting in favor those contributors when new laws (and other regulatory federal legislation) come up for votes, rather than voting the requirements of the population they are charged to represent. I'm posting my thoughts about this here because I believe it explains why the regulatory agencies for our food systems have gone bonkers.

When it takes millions of dollars (or sometimes billions of dollars depending on the office sought) to be successful in a political campaign, is it any wonder why big corporations see an advantage to finance a candidate who will favor the corporation's interests in future legislation?

One interesting question I have, is why a candidate will spend millions of dollars campaigning for a position that pays far less than they spend to get there? What else is in it for them? The current salary (2011-2012) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year. House Representatives are elected for a 2 year term, and Senate representatives for 6 years.

In order for a member of the House of Congress to qualify for a pension, they would have to be elected 3 times, for a total 6 year payout of $1,044,000, which is far less total salary than what they spent to get it. A Senator only has to serve 1 term (6 years) to qualify for a pension; same pay for 1 Senate term of 6 years that a Congressional Representative gets for 3 terms (6 years, $1,044,000), far less than either spent to get there.

So, where's the payoff for election to federal office, when you consider cost to get there versus salary once there? It certainly IS NOT in the salary, and probably not even in Employee Benefits, although the overall "esteem" of the Office no doubt strokes their ego. That STILL doesn't cut it in the money balance.
  • In a complex system of calculations, administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, congressional pay rates also affect the salaries for federal judges and other senior government executives.
  • During the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin considered proposing that elected government officials not be paid for their service. Other Founding Fathers, however, decided otherwise.
  • From 1789 to 1855, members of Congress received only a per diem (daily payment) of $6.00 while in session, except for a period from December 1815 to March 1817, when they received $1,500 a year. Members began receiving an annual salary in 1855, when they were paid $3,000 per year. ($3,000 of 1855 dollars would be worth: $78,947.37 in 2012)
Please note that Members of Congress have to serve at least 5 years to receive a pension.

The amount of a congressperson's pension depends on the years of service and the average of the highest 3 years of his or her salary. By law, the starting amount of a Member's retirement annuity may not exceed 80% of his or her final salary. (80% of the current pay of $174,000 is $139,200. I could live on that!)

President's Salary
Effective January 1, 2001, the annual salary of the president of the United States was increased to $400,000 per year, including a $50,000 expense allowance. Please note that the Presidential salary doubled in 2001.

The increase was approved as part of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act (Public Law 106-58), passed in the closing days of the 106th Congress.
"Sec. 644. (a) Increase in Annual Compensation.--Section 102 of title 3, United States Code, is amended by striking '$200,000' and inserting '$400,000'. (b) Effective Date.--The amendment made by this section shall take effect at noon on January 20, 2001."
Vice President's Salary
The salary of the vice president is currently (for 2011) $230,700. (BTW, who IS our VP [yes, I do know his name] and what does he do? I never see his name in the news.)

Presidential Retirement and Maintenance
Under the Former Presidents Act, each former president is paid a lifetime, taxable pension that is equal to the annual rate of basic pay for the head of an executive federal department -- $199,700 in 2011 -- the same annual salary paid to secretaries of the Cabinet agencies.

Each former president and vice president may also take advantage of funds allocated by Congress to help facilitate their transition to private life. These funds are used to provide suitable office space, staff compensation, communications services, and printing and postage associated with the transition. As an example, Congress authorized a total of $1.5 million for the transition expenses of outgoing president George H.W. Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle.

So, where IS the payoff? It sure doesn't appear to favor Joe Citizen who voted for Representation in Congress.

1 comment:

I'd love to hear what you think about my posts! We all learn together.