Congress Must Eliminate Its Own Pensions, Reduce Its Salaries -- Before Cutting a Dime From Middle Class Entitlements

Dear Members of Congress:

You keep telling us that we are broke. [We are in the sense that the Bush tax cuts, the Bush recession and the Iraq/Afghanistan Wars have put us deep in the hole, but those are all reversible with sensible policies.]

Yet, you pay yourselves a whopping $174,000 per year, provide gyms with pools and steamrooms for members, and healthcare and nice cushy pensions.

Sorry, girls and boys, but we cannot afford it anymore. We are broke.

Before you touch a hair on the chinny-chin-chin of benefits for the middle class and poor, before you reduce payments to any healthcare providers, before you cut a dime from a social security recipient's benefits, before you mess with the citizens of this country, we ALL demand that you eliminate your pensions, past, present and future.

We are not saying that you are not good girls and boys, that you have not worked hard to get there, that we discount the suffering some of you experience looking at yourselves in the mirror, and that retired members of Congress may not need their pensions, but that we simply cannot afford it. We are truly sorry.

And, that goes for the president and vice president too. I recall visiting a building in Los Angeles that housed the Reagan presidential office, at a time when Mr. Reagan was already suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and had not been to that office in several years. But there were still guards, and leasing expenses, and I was frisked when I got off the elevator. Talk about "waste, fraud and abuse"!

Nor, I am afraid, can we afford to pay you $174,000 per year. You take a lot of time off already, probably more than teachers, and so we are really overpaying you, and you do not need to invest in continuing education to keep your credentials up-to-date. Moreover, middle-class workers actually suffered a decline in salaries over the last decade, even prior to the Bush Recession, so you need to be cut back to what you were earning in 1999.

We would like to pay you more, but we just cannot afford it.

Oh, yes, on healthcare and your gym memberships -- you can start paying for those like all other Americans do, out of your salaries. Instead of the program for federal employees, you can only get covered by whatever insurance is available in the states from which you come. That will be good for you, it would enable you to be "men and women 'of the people.'" We are doing that for your own benefit.

On your gym, why not privatize it? The idea that government knows what exercises you should do better than a private corporation is, frankly, un-American. We should no longer allow a government bureaucrat come between you and your dumbbells. Let a private company pay the federal government for the right to run the facilities, and then charge you as it would in the private sector... and that goes for John Boehner's tanning booth as well.

We know it is important for you to remain in good health, and to have affordable healthcare -- but we are broke; we cannot afford to pay it. Moreover, we think you will work harder if you have to pay for it yourself.

Oh, and let us not forget CODELs, i.e., Congressional delegations. We realize some of them may be useful, but we also know they are abused by members to attend belief tank retreats, to make a splash in the news (even good ole' anti-pork John McCain dragged Joe Lieberman along so his trips to Afghanistan and Iraq during his presidential campaign could be deemed "bipartisan" and thus be charged to the American taxpayer. After all, who could have known that Shi'a and Sunni Muslims do not like each other very much without a $50,000 trip?) We will put aside $5 million a year, and tell you to live within that budget. We just cannot afford any more than that.

Yes, yes, I know that this money will not counterbalance the revenues lost from the Bush tax cuts, nor the unfunded wars, nor the Bush Recession. Nor will it make a senior citizen who has to decide between eating and keeping the air-conditioning on any less hungry or cooler, but we really just cannot afford it anymore.

Finally, I know this is a pet peeve of mine and no one else may care, but you really should put all the unused campaign money you have accumulated over the years into the Treasury. That will help a bit too.

As difficult as these cuts are, believe me, they are more painful for us than they are for you. We just think that it is in your interest, and that you will be better off for them.

Please confirm that these changes have been enacted.

Sincerely yours,

Your boss, (aka, the American people)