November 11, 2010
Do You Want a Congressional Pay Cut?
By James Wilson

Quote of the Day: "I leave symbolism to the symbol minded." -- George Carlin

Some people are calling for a Congressional pay cut as a symbolic gesture.

The idea will be wildly popular, but I don't care for it.

The proposed pay cut isn't tied to performance, so it will do NOTHING to change Congressional behavior.

A one-time pay cut won't, in any way, create an incentive for change. It's just a token.

If you read the story behind the link above you'll find that the word "symbol" is used six times. The word "gesture" also appears. That's a bad sign. Symbols are for suckers. Gestures are for losers.

The right way to manage Congressional pay is tie it to performance, PERPETUALLY.

We must not respond to token populism, like eager lap-dogs settling for table scraps. We must instead hold out for real reforms that address the crucial problem of Congressional incentives.

That's the problem with The State. Politicians have too many incentives to say "yes" to more spending, taxing and regulating. We need to replace the incentives for "yes" with even more powerful incentives leading to "no."

This should be the principle . . .

If Congress runs a deficit, then, BY LAW, they take a pay cut, EVERY term they do so. And that's why we made the Fiscal Responsibility Act one of six bills that comprise our Downsize DC Agenda.

Please support this REAL REFORM. Here's a sample letter you can send to your member of Congress . . .

I hear talk about a Congressional pay cut. I'm not fond of this idea because it dismisses a genuine reform in favor of a one-time symbolic act.

Tokens won't change anything.

Representatives Deal, Gingrey, Westmoreland, Linder, and Paul have introduced a bill that isn't merely a gesture. They've tied Congressional pay to performance.

After all, the problem isn't that you want us to like you -- it's that you spend too much!

If Congress runs a deficit, it should see a pay cut. This shouldn't happen just once. It shouldn't be a token. It should be the law.

Every term that you run a deficit, you and your colleagues should have your pay cut. If you feel a deficit is good for the country, if you support such "sacrifice," then I'm sure you'll be more than willing to take the lead.

Leave symbolic one-time pay cuts to the symbol-minded. I demand something more effective. Bring HR 4336 to the floor and vote for it. 


You can send your letter to Congress using's Educate the Powerful System.

Jim Babka
President, Inc.

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