Are taxpayers getting their money's worth?
An Analysis of Congressional Compensation

Article Highlights

  • Congress does not deserve any more pay raises #economy #deficit #unemployment

    Tweet This

  • Americans are skeptical of what they receive inreturn for what they are paying their elected representatives

    Tweet This

  • Immediate steps need to be taken to cut Congressional salaries and benefits

    Tweet This

Read the full paper as an Adobe Acrobat PDF

Citizens across the country are struggling to make ends meet. They are frustrated with the failure of their elected representatives in Congress to address pressing national problems to make things better for all Americans. Compounding their frustration is the fact that Members of Congress receive pay and benefits far in excess of what average working Americans receive. In addition to a salary of $174,000 per year, which by itself puts Members of Congress among the highest-paid 5 percent of American workers, Members of Congress receive more generous fringe benefits than typical American employees. In fact, congressional compensation including benefits totals around $285,000 per year. In a time when unemployment rates are at unacceptably high levels and those who are working are often subject to "pay for performance" standards, it is galling to many to hear of the generous pay and benefits Congress has provided for itself. It is not surprising that Congress has such an abysmal approval rating.

A number of pieces of legislation have proposed reducing or freezing congressional pay. Taxpayers could save $39 million a year if members of Congress decreased their salary to $100,000 per year. Whether a Congressional pay reduction is warranted depends, in part, upon perceptions regarding the relative level of congressional compensation. Because of the unique nature of legislative service, it is difficult to determine the appropriate level of compensation with precision. But comparisons of congressional pay and benefits to those received by highly-educated private-sector workers, as well as to those received by legislators in other countries, can support the conclusion that Members of Congress are overpaid.

Andrew Biggs is a resident scholar at AEI. MacMillin Slobodien is executive director of Our Generation, and David Williams is president of Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Andrew G.
Biggs
  • Andrew G. Biggs is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he studies Social Security reform, state and local government pensions, and public sector pay and benefits.

    Before joining AEI, Biggs was the principal deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), where he oversaw SSA’s policy research efforts. In 2005, as an associate director of the White House National Economic Council, he worked on Social Security reform. In 2001, he joined the staff of the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security. Biggs has been interviewed on radio and television as an expert on retirement issues and on public vs. private sector compensation. He has published widely in academic publications as well as in daily newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. He has also testified before Congress on numerous occasions. In 2013, the Society of Actuaries appointed Biggs co-vice chair of a blue ribbon panel tasked with analyzing the causes of underfunding in public pension plans and how governments can securely fund plans in the future.

    Biggs holds a bachelor’s degree from Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland, master’s degrees from Cambridge University and the University of London, and a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics.

  • Phone: 202-862-5841
    Email: andrew.biggs@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Kelly Funderburk
    Phone: 202-862-5920
    Email: kelly.funderburk@aei.org

What's new on AEI

image Getting it right: US national security policy and al Qaeda since 2011
image Net neutrality rundown: What the NPRM means for you
image The Schuette decision
image Snatching failure from victory in Afghanistan
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 21
    MON
  • 22
    TUE
  • 23
    WED
  • 24
    THU
  • 25
    FRI
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Graduation day: How dads’ involvement impacts higher education success

Join a diverse group of panelists — including sociologists, education experts, and students — for a discussion of how public policy and culture can help families lay a firmer foundation for their children’s educational success, and of how the effects of paternal involvement vary by socioeconomic background.

Thursday, April 24, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Getting it right: A better strategy to defeat al Qaeda

This event will coincide with the release of a new report by AEI’s Mary Habeck, which analyzes why current national security policy is failing to stop the advancement of al Qaeda and its affiliates and what the US can do to develop a successful strategy to defeat this enemy.

Event Registration is Closed
Friday, April 25, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Obamacare’s rocky start and uncertain future

During this event, experts with many different views on the ACA will offer their predictions for the future.   

Event Registration is Closed
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.