The U.S. Congress is just plain lazy

Charles Rangel
U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-NY

When you set your own salary and work hours, it’s not surprising what you end up with.

Most Americans will typically work five days a week, 50 weeks a year, for a total of 250 days. That doesn’t include business owners and workaholics like me who work 12-16 hours a day, seven days a week without letting up — except, of course, for the time taken to slug down copious quantities of coffee and ingest things my grandparents wouldn’t recognize as food products.

Not so for Congress. Congress makes its own rules and, with but a few exceptions, cares little for how the constituents feel about the matter.

Congressional leaders just released their legislative calendars for 2013 — one for each chamber — and they’re a real eye-popper.

While the average schlep works 250 days a year, Congress will be in session about half that time — 126 days.

What about their salaries? A member of Congress in either chamber takes in — but doesn’t necessarily earn — $174,000 per year. The House speaker, majority and minority leaders rake in a bit more. Compare that to the median household income in the United States — $46,326.

When we’re allowed to set our own hours and pay scale, we suddenly develop an inflated sense of our own worth. Perhaps it’s time we require members of Congress to spend their time earning their salaries — by doing their job.

Don’t want to consider a budget? No pay and no time off until they do. Same goes for balancing the budget. If the average Joe making $46K a year can do it, so can Congress.

Although I’ve thought that Congress has been overpaid and underworked for years, I never gave it much thought until recently. We’ll now be sending to Washington the clueless, like District 18 Rep. Patrick Murphy, and the unscrupulous, like District 22 Rep. Lois Frankel. Allen West and Adam Hasner would have served in those posts with more honor and greater skill.

Congress refers to its time off as “recess.” I’d always thought of “recess” as a time for children to go out to play. In many ways, that definition still applies.

1213 House calendar.

1213 Senate calendar


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