NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, August 14, 2002
For More Information Contact: Gary Ruskin (503) 235-8012 or Pete Sepp (703) 683-5700

Coalition Asks Senators to Block Congressional Pay Raise

Opponents of the proposed $5,000 congressional pay raise sent letters today to all U.S. Senators urging them to reject the raise. The letter follows.

Dear Senator:

We write to ask you to oppose the proposed $5,000 congressional pay raise, which would boost the congressional compensation package from $150,000 to $155,000, plus generous perks, pension and health benefits.

Members of Congress are already overpaid. Including the new proposed raise, Members of Congress will earn nearly four times the median income of full-time, year-round American male workers, excluding benefits and perks.

In 1989, Members of Congress earned $89,500 per year. Since then, they have already granted themselves $60,500 in raises. Over the past five years, Members of Congress have given themselves $13,300 per year in raises, which is more than a minimum wage employee would earn during an entire year of full-time work.

But this is an especially improper time for yet another congressional pay grab.

The federal budget deficit has exploded. The Office of Management and Budget predicts that the federal deficit will be $165 billion this year. Still worse, the federal public debt has ballooned to $6.2 trillion. Our country is so deep in debt that we cannot and should not afford a congressional pay raise.

Our economy is sagging. The recent stock market drop has cut the retirement savings of millions of Americans. And the federal government's official unemployment rate has risen from 4.9% a year ago to 5.9% last month.

There is no shortage of highly qualified candidates willing to run for Congress at the current salary. If Senators wish to earn more, they may do so in the private sector.

At the very least, the Senate should hold hearings on the proposed raise, and permit a roll call vote on an amendment to reject it.

But this is no time for another congressional pay grab. We ask you to preserve your moral authority to govern by doing everything in your power to stop it.

Sincerely,

Ralph Nader
Gary Ruskin, Director, Congressional Accountability Project
Pete Sepp, Vice President for Communications, National Taxpayers Union
Paul M. Weyrich, President, Free Congress Foundation
Jill Lancelot, President and Co-Founder, Taxpayers for Common Sense
Dave Williams, Vice President of Policy, Citizens Against Government Waste
Stacie Rumenap, Executive Director, U.S. Term Limits
Ben Manski, Co-Chair, Green Party of the United States
Steve Dasbach, Executive Director, Libertarian Party
Gerald Moan, Chairman, Reform Party of the USA

<-----letter ends here----->

For more information about congressional pay and perks, and the proposed congressional pay raise, see the Congressional Accountability Project website at <http://www.congressproject.org> or the National Taxpayers Union website at <http://www.ntu.org/>.

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