For Immediate Release: For More Information Contact:

Thursday, August 17, 1995 Gary Ruskin (202) 296-2787

Nader Report Shows Members of Congress Keep Lavish Pay and Perks

While Slashing Programs for Ordinary Americans

Members of Congress have voted for proposed cuts in a wide range of programs for ordinary Americans, but have declined to make commensurate cuts in Congressional perks, according to a new report by the Congressional Accountability Project called Taking Advantage of the Taxpayers: A Guide to Congressional Welfare.

For example, the Fiscal Year 1996 Concurrent Resolution on the Budget includes a proposed $270 billion cut in Medicare over seven years, but spares free outpatient care for members of Congress at Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals, as well as generous taxpayer-subsidized health insurance plans for members of Congress and their staff. The rescissions bill cuts assisted housing programs by $5.13 billion in fiscal year 1995, but spares the special $3,000 housing allowance tax deduction for members of Congress.

"Before cutting Medicare, Speaker Gingrich and Majority Leader Dole should cut the lard out of Congress first -- that means cutting Congressional pay and perks," said Ralph Nader. "Members of Congress should generate some leadership by example. They should stop sponging off the taxpayers."

"Gingrich and Dole are behaving like the old party bosses in the Soviet Union who dined on delicacies while the Russian people stood in line for potatoes," said Gary Ruskin, director of the Congressional Accountability Project.

"Senator Phil Gramm talks about how welfare recipients should 'get out of the wagon and help the rest of us pull.'" Nader said. "We say to Senator Gramm and his overpaid Congressional colleagues that they should get out of the Congressional welfare wagon and help the rest of us taxpayers pull."

The report shows that members of Congress have voted themselves generous pay increases, while many Americans have suffered stagnant wages and incomes for more than a generation. For example, members of Congress have voted for themselves a $25,000 pay increase above inflation since 1989, meanwhile the U.S. median family income is smaller now than it was 1969, adjusted for inflation. And the U.S. median male income is smaller now than it was in 1963, adjusted for inflation.

Members of Congress receive a generous package of pay and perks, including:

To purchase a copy of Taking Advantage of the Taxpayers: A Guide to Congressional Welfare, send $10 to Congressional Accountability Project, P. O. Box 19446, Washington, DC 20036.


The Congressional Arrogance Chart

Issue What Congress is Cutting

From Us

What Members of Congress Did Not Cut From Themselves
Health Care 1. Medicare ($270 Billion) (CRB)

2. Medicaid ($181.6 Billion) (CRB)

3. Subsidies for prescription drugs for upper income veterans (drug copayments will be increased) (CRB)

4. Lead-based paint hazard reduction program cut $85.3 million (RB)

1. Free outpatient care at Bethesda and Walter Reed Hospitals

2. Office of the Attending Physician -- on site treatment in the Capitol complex at low cost ($275/year for House, $520/year for Senate)

3. Taxpayer-subsidized health insurance

Welfare Reform 1. Food Stamps (CRB) (Spending reduced as part of combining into block grant)

2. WIC cut by $20 million (RB)

1. House Members receive free meals and vacations from lobbyists and others (Senate passed gift reform resolution effective Jan. 1, 1996 that bans "charity" vacations but will still allow gifts of some meals under $50)

2. Use of Office Expense Account monies to purchase meals for members of Congress

3. Use of leadership expense allowances to purchase food and beverages for members of Congress

Housing Assisted housing programs cut $5.13 billion (RB) $3,000 annual housing allowance tax deduction only for members of Congress
Transportation Phase-out of Amtrak and mass transit operating subsidies ($3.8 Billion) (CRB) 1. House Members may use taxpayer-paid frequent flier miles for personal use

2. Free parking at National and Dulles airports, and at the Capitol

Water Quality and Safety Sewage and safe drinking water facilities cut $1.077 billion (RB) Use of Office Expense Account for purchase of bottled water or spring water for Congressional offices to avoid tap water
Energy Low Income Home Energy Assistance cut $319 million (RB) Free firewood for Senate offices


CRB= Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 1996, RB= Rescissions Bill

Sources: Rescissions bill, Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 1996; "Summary of Agreement on Major Provisions," Majority Staffs, House and Senate Budget Committees; "Budget Resolution Conference Agreement Impact on Discretionary Programs," House Budget Committee Democratic Caucus. All budget numbers from Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 1996 are proposed cumulative cuts for fiscal years 1996-2002. Size of proposed program cuts in budget resolution provided when available. Otherwise size of proposed program cuts are unspecified in FY '96 budget resolution.