Federal salaries go up as Congress muddles
(New Castle, Pa., News)
Amid the end-of-year squabbling over the fiscal cliff, Washington made a move you might have missed.
It all began when President Obama issued an executive order Dec. 27 that lifted a freeze on federal pay.
The freeze not only impacted federal civilian employees and top administration officials, it also included members of Congress. (It did not give Obama a pay hike, but did grant one to Vice President Joe Biden.)
Percentage wise, the boost was not massive, about 0.5 percent. For the average lawmaker, this move would have increased their pay by about $900, to $174,900.
Now, word of a pay raise for Congress amid the fumbling and bumbling it has produced in recent years was sure to ignite public outrage. And it would seem that most lawmakers are still able to grasp the absurdity of their receiving more money when they were chalking up such poor performances.
So when it came time to vote on fiscal cliff matters (or at least some of them), the House and Senate agreed to block their own pay raises. The Republican-controlled House went a step further, approving a bill — with significant Democratic support — to halt pay increases to most federal workers.
Now, it should be noted that because of the nation’s recession and slow recovery from it, lawmakers have abstained from raises since 2009. And federal employee wages have been frozen since 2010.
But in terms of Congress, the question legitimately should be asked: Don’t lawmakers deserve a pay cut, rather than a mere freeze?
And while we can be sympathetic to the plight of federal employees who have gone years without pay boosts, the same can be said of many folks in the private sector — assuming they were able to keep their jobs. In the midst of massive federal deficits, even modest increases in pay rates draw scrutiny. With his executive order, the president failed to show disciplined restraint. . . .
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Polosi's photo deceit
(The Joplin, Mo., Globe)
Women now hold 78 seats in the House of Representatives, and one-fifth of the Senate is made up of women.
But just as surely as time marches on, so it is the nature of some politicians to think themselves above those they are elected to serve.
Enter House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who wanted to celebrate the opening day of the 113th Congress with a photo of all the Democratic female members posing on the steps of the Capitol.
But when the time came to take the picture, four members were late and the Washington winter made waiting on the tardy a task too cold to bear. The picture was snapped sans the four.
Since the invention of the camera, standard practice for such photos is to include the names of the omitted in the caption.
But Pelosi is anything but a standard politician.
Pelosi, using Photoshop, doctored the picture so it looked as if every woman was actually there. Nor did she label the photo as an illustration.
Her second problem was this response:
“It’s an accurate historical record of who the Democratic women of Congress are. It also is an accurate record that it was freezing cold and our members had been waiting a long time for everyone to arrive and that they had to get back into the building to greet constituents, family members, to get ready to go to the floor,” she said.
No, a doctored photo without a disclaimer is not the same as an accurate historical record.
Pelosi is not the first to publish doctored photos as original, but we deserve better from our elected officials.
With Americans’ trust in their government and elected officials at an all-time low, Pelosi’s defense of her action only makes matters worse. If one of the most powerful individuals in the nation thinks it just fine to present falsity as truth, how are we to determine the difference when it really matters?