Raising The Roof On Outrage
By Howie Rich
With trillions of taxpayer dollars being poured into an outright socialist invasion of our nation's founding free market philosophy - you might think that the paltry sum of $2.5 million would be incapable of generating much outrage.
You've heard the expression "a drop in the bucket?"
Well, compared with the scarcely-fathomable increases in our national debt over the past few months, $2.5 million is barely a "molecule in the bucket."
But this $2.5 million is different, not because of how much money it represents, but because of what it represents - failure, greed, hypocrisy and a culture of evading responsibility for one's actions.
Simply put, while the amount of taxpayer debt our politicians are pouring into a failed philosophy of governance soars to an all-time high, America's faith in its failed government institutions is drooping to an all-time low.
And while millions of Americans are bearing the bitter fruit of this cataclysmic institutional failure in the form of lost jobs, vanished savings, depressed income levels and higher tax burdens, the architects of the fiscal Armageddon currently consuming our nation are giving themselves a pay raise?
That's right. Such is the "Bizarro World" of Washington's backward bailout culture, where it seems the most effective method of securing a limitless stream of taxpayer revenue is to practice incompetence on an unprecedented fiscal scale.
That at least appears to be the logic behind the $4,700 pay increase each lawmaker will be receiving this coming year (raising their salaries to $174,000 a year). And in keeping with "Bizarro Rules," legislative leaders and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi get even bigger raises, presumably for playing larger roles in this unfolding national disaster.
But what's perhaps most galling is that there isn't even a "pay raise vote" for anyone to criticize, because years ago Congress rigged the process so that a majority of members would have to vote against the raises in order to keep them from taking effect.
Thirty-four brave members actually tried to do that earlier this year, but Speaker Pelosi shoved their bill that would have done away with the automatic increases into a desk drawer where it remains to this day.
Ironically, earlier last week Congress told credit card companies they couldn't raise your interest rates without telling you beforehand. Funny how the rules are selectively applied, isn't it?
It's also ironic that the Senate's ranking Democrat, Harry Reid, blasted this very practice two years ago as "unconscionable" when it was Republicans who controlled Congress.
Where's Reid's outrage today? Nowhere to be found.
So flagrant, so egregious, so impossible to spin are these pay raises that the magazine Advertising Age is actually seeking suggestions from PR professionals as to how they would navigate this impossible communications conundrum.
No wonder partisan angst is becoming a thing of the past - giving way to a universal angst, one that knows no political boundaries.
In fact, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports poll, the approval rating for the current Democratic Congress stands at 14 percent - among Democrats.
It's at 9 percent among all registered voters, the lowest mark ever recorded.
Amazingly, that number isn't likely to go up anytime soon as the American recession drags on.
And with Medicare and Social Security insolvencies looming on the horizon - to say nothing of the bigger federal bailouts President-elect Barack Obama is proposing for 2009 - our well-compensated Congress will no doubt be back up to its old tricks again, taking our taxpayer debt to heights never before imagined.
At some point, though, the bubble has to burst. And while $2.5 million is indeed a "molecule in the bucket" next to the untold trillions Congress is spending, it could very well be the molecule that breaks the dam of deception and sets our nation on a course - at long last - toward some semblance of fiscal sanity.
We can certainly hope so, at least.
The author is Chairman of Americans for Limited Government.