Sunday, October 10, 2010

More Math And Politics

Should we pay congressmen a bonus if they balance the federal budget? One candidate said so--he was joking--but his opponent has seized on the issue. At least one reporter, though, can do some basic math:

Speaking in front of a white board at George Mason University, Fimian said that congressional salaries should be cut to $50,000 until members balance the budget. He added that once that happens, he would want a $250,000 bonus.

In his ad, Connolly slams Fimian for supposedly supporting bonuses for members of Congress -- an allegation that seems absurd given that the context of Fimian's statement was a larger rant against government spending.

But if Fimian wants to play Connolly's little game, he could offer a good comeback.

If you take Fimian's "$250,000 bonus" suggestion literally, the government would have to dole out $109 million in bonuses to the 435 voting members of the House once they balance the budget.

But until that's accomplished, cutting members' $174,000 base salaries to $50,000 would save $54 million each year. Given that a Republican takeover of the House is likely and even greater legislative gridlock appears imminent, it seems extremely unlikely that a balanced budget will be approved within two years -- the amount of time necessary to make up that $109 million in bonus payouts.

Best case scenario, Congress does pass a balanced budget by 2012, and we save $54 million for each of two years, then pay it back in bonuses. Zero net impact.

Worst case scenario, the government saves $54 million annually as it continues spending beyond its means for years on end.

Performance pay for congressmen?


mazenko said...

Love it.

I think congressional salaries should be fixed forever at $20,000 above the average national salary. There should be 435 "townhouses" in the immediate area of the capitol, and all travel should regulated and equal.

Don't like the bonuses, though. Waste of money - and the Vanderbilt study has proved that performance pay does nothing to boost student/teacher achievement.

Darren said...

The Vanderbilt study didn't look at genuine performance pay, it looked at what should rightly be called "bonus pay". Genuine performance pay is being done an hour south of you, in Harrison District 2 in Colorado Springs.