Since yesterday was the Fourth of July, it is worth glimpsing back briefly at the founding of our nation and at what the founding fathers had in mind as a form of government that one of our greatest presidents would later describe as “of the people, by the people, for the people.”
One question that occurred to, but was dodged by, framers of the Constitution was how much members of Congress should earn for their service to the nation. According to the U.S. Senate archives, some founders believed that “because senators would probably come from the well-to-do classes, they should receive no salary at all.”
As one of its first orders of business, the House of Representatives formed a committee to draft congressional pay legislation. The panel recommended six dollars for each day a member attended a session. But Representative James Madison, the Constitution’s principal architect, irritated his fellow House members by proposing that senators be paid more than representatives because they presumably had greater responsibilities under the Constitution. The House ignored Madison and accepted the six-dollar rate for both chambers.
Since the House of Representatives averages 138 “legislative days” a year, each Congress member back in 1789 received 138 × $6 = $828 per annum, which by today’s standards would be a modest $21,521.57.
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Obviously, the founders never envisioned Congress members living in houses like this one:
This immodest dwelling is the home of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.). The house is located in the affluent Los Angeles community of Hancock Park.
Waters lives far from the 43rd congressional district, which she serves and which is one of the the worst in Los Angeles. Waters, whom some in L.A. have branded a “poverty pimp,” has been an elected official for 28 years, over which time she has repeated and re-repeated the same populous spiel. Here, via Red Nations Rising, is a video of Waters’s district.
Maxine Waters district 43 is the worst in Los Angeles. She has been
an elected official for 28 years & her district looks like a cesspool. Maxine doesn't live in district 43. She lives in a million+ $$ mansion outside her district. Reprehensible! pic.twitter.com/6jyiXELgC4
— Kevin W (@kwilli1046) July 5, 2018
If Americans aren’t feeling proud of their nation this Fourth of July, as the Washington Post grimly notes, maybe this is why.