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Maybe Congress should live like the rest of us

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Published on Mon, Nov 8, 2010 by BY PAM STEVENS | MANAGING EDITOR

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There’s an email going around right now with some great suggestions to the American people, suggestions that have been discussed but haven’t had much backing in the Senate or the House. Maybe now is the time that we should act with the government’s approval rating in the toilet.

The email calls it ‘Congressional Reform 2010’ and it recommends the following:
• Congress be limited to term limits of no more than 12 years;
• They receive NO pension or retirement, only collecting their salary while in office;
• They participate in Social Security which would include placing all monies in the Congressional retirement fund into Social Security;
• Congress can no longer vote themselves a pay raise. They will be subject to the traditional three percent or CPI (Consumer Price Index) raise, like most Americans;
• They must use the same health care plan they have voted “good enough” for the rest of America;
• Congress must abide by the same laws as all of the American people.

I have had conversations with friends of both parties regarding limiting terms and cutting the pensions and retirement packages which Congress receives. Not one of them has argued that they should be able to continue to collect this money.  
Most of my conversations have been with middle-class Americans who have to plan for their retirement by budgeting and socking money away out of their own pockets, not the pockets of their neighbors’.
Other complaints have been that while the rest of the country, and really the world, is foregoing pay raises, enduring pay decreases or even the loss of jobs, Congress consistently takes pay raises and gives themselves the best insurance plan out there.

Where is the common sense? Do these people step off a plane in Washington D.C. and forget who they are representing? Do they not remember who is paying their salary, pensions and health care costs?
I’m sure that most Americans would love to give themselves a raise, even when we don’t deserve it, but that just isn’t logical, whether we’re in a recession or not. Companies, both big and small, have to work within a budget and most of the time, pay raises aren’t on the top of those budgets.

Taxes, insurance and other overhead costs must come first. With small businesses many employers have had to cut their own pay just to be able to continue to pay their employees. I have heard of this happening time and again.
And now, even large companies are having to jack up out-of-pocket insurance costs because of the new health plan Congress has passed that is supposed to be great for every American—oh, except them.

Companies like Microsoft and Boeing are having to tell their employees that their insurance costs are going to skyrocket next year. 

Is this what our founding fathers had in mind when they set-up our government? I don’t think they were taking home pensions or giving themselves consistent pay raises. I think their main concern was making sure the freedoms for which they fought continued and that the American people were well represented by those who  cared about everyone in this country.
As it states in the email that many of you have probably received, “Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.  The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.”

Let’s write our Senators and Representatives, especially those who have just been voted into office, and let them know what we want them to do for us.

We voted them in there, they promised to represent ‘We, the people’ so tell them what ‘we’ expect. There is no better time.

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