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The assets of Americans 35 or older have dropped 22 percent since 2007, according to Pew Research, and the decrease is because of high unemployment, a weak housing market, and a sluggish economy. Americans now learning hardship first-hand might consider the way members of Congress are attempting to tighten their belts in light of the sequester.
As the Washington Post noted, reducing their $174,000 salaries would “hurt them the most.” Not to worry, legislators’ salaries are exempt from cuts under the sequester deal, but their office budgets of about $1.3 million are being reduced by 8.2 percent. That means they have had to cancel magazine subscriptions, contact constituents by email instead of snail mail, and even give invoices a second look. No staffers have been fired or furloughed but security cuts mean that staffers have to wait in longer lines. As for lawmakers, they might find their preferred routes in and out of the building curtailed. Some are actually turning down speaking engagements. Worse, the congressional delegation going to Rome to welcome the new pope will have to fly by commercial jet. No more trips on military jets to events such as the Paris Air Show. And it’s not just members of Congress that must endure such privation.
Senate office budgets, which run around $3 million, are being reduced by, yes, a full 5 percent. For their part, federal workers are complaining of pay cuts but that too is a sham. Turns out that some haven’t had a raise since 2010 and they consider that a cut, which it isn’t. And if a raise of 6 percent turns out to be 3 percent, that also is considered a cut.
That’s how it works in Washington DC, where token reductions amount to a lot less than American workers are enduring. On the other hand, it’s more evidence, that even under sequestration, the folks in DC are always looking out for number one.