Monday, February 01, 2010

Guvmint Jobs

If executive bonuses rub you the wrong way so should congressional staffer bonuses. Lawmakers Have Long Rewarded Their Aides With Bonuses. In 2008 "more than 200 House lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, awarded bonuses totaling $9.1 million to more than 2,000 staff members, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of office-disbursement forms. The money comes out of taxpayer-funded office budgets, and is surplus cash that would otherwise be forfeited if not spent."

In 2009, "The House program pays up to $10,000 a year, with a maximum lifetime benefit of $60,000. Staffers making any salary are now eligible, though their total compensation - including the loan repayment - cannot exceed the 2009 cap of $168,411. From 2008 through May of this year, the cap was $145,159."

The justification for bonuses is - similar to private corporate bonus excuses - to attract the best and brightest, talented staffers - who are underpaid for their long grueling hours of hard work, they could make more money in the private sector, etc. etc. etc.

What do these talented underpaid "staffers" do? Their tasks include : Developing legislation, managing the office, press relations, answering mail, casework, scheduling appearances and appointments, and other duties. Congressional committee staff assist members with committee hearings, markups, reports, and assist Members when necessary on the floor and in conference committees."

"Developing legislation?" Sounds like writing policy to me ... Scheduling ... like those Vegas or tropical get-togethers. Press relations, appearances - damage control and constant campaigning for the next election; photo-ops. Answering mail/casework ... assisting just enough voters back home with petty nonpolitical problems to boost reelection odds.

Thank goodness these staffers worked so hard to give us things like the Patriot Act, TARP, Obamacare, Pork R'Us proposals...

Typical House and Senate staffer incomes are shown here. Not shown are the perks - paid travel expenses, health insurance, paid holidays/vacations, etc., and best of all the contacts made in the halls of power and K Street. Many of the staff positions, such as mail opener and phone answerer are not high pay, but the top staffers usually go on to lucrative careers in business or public/private "institutes". Some staffers go on to become congress critters themselves.

Staffing can also serve to supplement income of the congress critter's friends and family. And there's always the prospect of working decades as the top office dog, such as Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's Chief of Staff, Arthur Estopinan.

Chief of staffers typically earn 6-figures. They also can work for more than one congress critter, can hold paid positions on other "committees." Example: Chief staffer for Glen Nye (D-VA) Angela Kouters. Or as with David McKean , chief of staff for John Kerry and staff director for Senate Foreign Relations Committee, for a lowly underpaid 2009 salary of about $168,000, and all that elbow rubbing of the rich.

Amazing huh that pols used to write pamphlets and declarations in short order that most men and women could understand - now we require thousands of overworked underpaid staffers to assemble a foot-high paper pile that no one can make any sense of, other than the industries the pile will benefit.

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