June 2, 1998

Speaker Newt Gingrich

Minority Leader Richard Gephardt

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515


Dear Speaker Gingrich and Minority Leader Gephardt:

We are writing to oppose yet another congressional pay raise.

Taxpayers grow angry when elected officials enrich themselves at public expense. Five months ago, Members of Congress received a generous $3,072 raise. You do not need another. Members of Congress are already paid a regal $136,672 annual salary, plus pensions, perks, and other benefits.

The American people want leadership by example. They want you to adopt self-restraint and self-discipline to serve the public good.

Instead, you have given yourselves pay raise after pay raise against the wishes of the American people, who wanted you to have humbler salaries. During the last ten years, House Members gave themselves five pay raises, Senators six. Congressional salaries grew by $47,172 -- about $11,000 above inflation.

Most Americans have been less fortunate. Many haven't enjoyed a real wage increase in more than a generation. Average private hourly earnings were higher in 1968 - 30 years ago - than they are today, adjusted for inflation.

Our country is deep in debt. The federal debt is over $5.5 trillion. As a debtor nation, we cannot afford to waste our money on frivolity.

This is an arrogant, greedy, corrupt affront to the American taxpayers. It will undercut your moral authority to govern. We ask you to publicly reject this pay raise.

Sincerely,

Ralph Nader

Gary Ruskin, Director, Congressional Accountability Project

Paul Jacob, Executive Director, U. S. Term Limits

Thomas A. Schatz, President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Russell Verney, Chairman, Reform Party, and Executive Director, United We Stand America

Paul M. Weyrich, President, Free Congress Foundation

Ralph DeGennaro, Executive Director, Taxpayers for Common Sense

Steve Dasbach, National Chairman, Libertarian Party