It took awhile for the 27th Amendment to be ratified.
The purpose of the proposal– that no congressional pay raise should take effect “until an election of Representatives shall have intervened”– is simple enough.
The Founders, who submitted the amendment to the states along with the rest of the Bill of Rights in September 1789, figured voters should have a chance to express their approval or disapproval of a congressional pay hike before it took effect.
Congressmen voting themselves a raise would thus have reason to be cautious, lest their self-generosity appear excessive enough to prompt a voter backlash.
Michigan became the final necessary state to ratify the amendment– on May 7, 1992.
But it took a lot less than two centuries for Congress to find a way around the measure, needless to say.
The delegates simply set up a mechanism under which their regular raises take effect “automatically.”
Because the senators and representatives don’t actually “vote” themselves a raise, they figured no ruckus would be raised by their pay hikes coming along just as regular as Old Faithful.
Enter the Great Recession.
“Yielding to election year reality, the Senate passed a bill Thursday to deny members of Congress a built-in pay raise next year,” The Associated Press reports.
Russ Feingold, D-Wis., engineered the legislation, which would deny senators and members of the House an automatic pay raise of about $1,600 next year. (Members of Congress currently make $174,000 a year.)
The Senate passed the measure unanimously without a roll call vote. The House likely will act soon.
In an economy crippled by taxes, regulation, and government borrowing– an economy then prevented from quick recovery by further government interventions to block normal bankruptcies and to block necessary declines in wages and prices (including endlessly paying workers to remain unemployed)– opting to forgo “in your face” congressional pay hikes is a no-brainer.
So when are they going to return to roll call votes on their compensation, as intended by the authors of the 27th Amendment?–Las
Vegas Review Journal