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On idiots and Congress
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“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” Mark Twain penned those words more than a century ago.
Now comes a retiring (but not shy) Democratic Congressman from Virginia, Jim Moran, to prove Twain’s point. “I think the American people should know that the members of Congress are underpaid,” gripes Moran, apparently with a straight face. He goes on to whine about these “underpaid” politicians being unable to live “decently” in D.C.
Pardon me if I turn a dry eye to Moran and his colleagues in Congress. For starters, they’re  already making a “minimum wage” of nearly $175,000 a year, plus perks aplenty. All that might not be enough to live lavishly, as many politicians prefer to do, but it’s certainly more than “decent” compensation for underperforming  members of Congress. In fact, it’s nearly nine times the president’s recent federal minimum wage proposal, and it’s way above median white-collar workers’ pay in the private sector.
Meanwhile, here in the real world, pay raises are based largely on demonstrated performance and perceived potential. They have to be earned. Clearly, members of Congress have not earned a pay raise – and do not deserve one.
Moran adds insult to in jury with this absurd assertion, “I understand that it’s widely felt that they underperform, but the fact is this is the board of directors for the largest economic entity in the world.” Actually, it is widely known, not just “widely felt,” that Congress underperforms on a daily basis. When they show up, I mean.
As for the “fact,” claimed by Moran, members of Congress are not the “board of directors,” for the economy or anything else in the USA. They are – or ought to be – loyal  public servants for “we the people,” who elect them and pay them well, including lavish retirement benefits for life. 
If Moran were just some moronic member of Congress, fading into cushy retirement, I might merely ask him, “Would you like some cheese with your whine?” However, his Parthian shot proves he is woefully out of touch with ordinary Americans – and so are his colleagues in Congress. And no wonder. They live in cocoons of comfort, insulated and isolated from the stresses and strains of workaday Americans.
As for jobs, “job one” for most members of Congress is keeping their own. And that means raising money, lots of money. Follow the campaign finance fundraising trail and you’ll find out who really has the lion’s share of clout with Congress.
Retired Army Col. Thomas B. Vaughn can be reached at