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Downsize Congress

By Tyler S. Clark (Contact)

Published June 8, 2009

As long as we're looking for budget cuts, a curious proposal that's floating around suggests we take a second look at the size of Congress. Do we need 435 members?

Each representative gets $174,000, not including the salaries paid to their staffers. One estimate puts the total staff salaries per representative at $1.3 Million. Say we just arbitrarily reduced the number by 50%. This move alone would save $320 Million. This is before including the billions in earmarks arranged by them that would also be saved.

This proposal also suggests halving the Senate, though I would have a bit more reluctance about that, given its potential for bipartisan representation of the states in a two-party system.

What proposals would you put forth for cutting the federal budget? 


1Nonsocialist(710 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

The population of the USA has grown, so the # of representatives should not decrease. By contrast, the population of Youngstown has decreased, therefore the # of councilmembers should decrease.

That is not to say that congressional personal expenses should not decrease, or even their and their staffers' income.

Regarding balancing the Federal budget, my suggestions are to reduce spending by:

1. Phase out entitlements over 50 years
2. Phase out entitlements over 50 years
3. Phase out entitlements over 50 years
4. Let self-destructive businesses destruct (ie, don't give them money borrowed from China, Saudi Arabia and our great-grandchildren). Well managed banks, automakers, mortgage lenders will increase their market share and increase hiring, etc.
5. True healthcare reform (Tort reform, etc) will reduce expenditures from Medicare and Medicaid until these programs are phased out.
6. Reduce government bureacracy. A Fair Tax would greatly reduce the size of the IRS.

I believe that revenues could be increased by expanding the tax base, not by cap-and-trade or a VAT, but by a Fair Tax. The Fair Tax should be phased in while the penalty for working (Income Tax) should be phased out. Imagine drug dealers and prostitutes paying taxes too!

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2Erplane(476 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago


I know everybody likes to jump on Congress for their salaries, and their lifestyles, but its not an issue of the salary but the return the constituent gets on the investment. $170k is not alot of money in the grand scheme of things. First, they have to maintain two places to live. I know many frosh congressmen live in their office or a dorm-like room and they get hailed as fiscal heros. But I want my congressman well rested. I also want intelligent, motivated people in Congress. These are people that can make alot more in the private sector, so $170k is okay.

But what I want for that $170k is 1) responsiveness to their constituents, from everything from service academy nominations to help with immigration/passport issues (for example), 2) intelligent decision making based on true representation of the people in their district (and decisions that sometimes go against the constituency, but with proper explanation as to why), and 3) the ability to successfully navigate the politics of DC to the benefit of his constituency.

Slimming down Congress in half means less ability to satisfy the needs of a district. To do that to save money hurts the country in the long run.

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3Erplane(476 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

One other point. I loved the book "Charlie Wilson's War" (better than the movie, which is still fun). Yeah he was a boozer and a partier, but when it came down to it, he worked to serve his country in a way little recognized at the time. He was an agent in the winning of the Cold War, and if people listened to him in 1990 maybe Afghanistan would not have been a breeding ground for Al-Qaeda. But if CW served today he would have been lambasted by the media and jealous politicians who want to show off their squeeky clean shoes in an ethics cmte meeting and his effectiveness would have been nil. What I am saying is lets hold our politicians accountable for their track record first and foremost.

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4Nonsocialist(710 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

I was remiss to not add a #7 to my post above...restrictions on the Federal legislature's ability to spend money, aka "pork reform". The current system is failing miserably as we elect folks with no fiscal discipline. The federal legislature should only fund the military, federal offices or projects on federal property or highways. The states (consistent with the 10th amendment) would fund their own roads, dams, bridges, aquariums, etc. No more "big dig" or "bridge to nowhere."

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5irishfan91(97 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

the amount of money for the staffers seems to be excessive. I would cut there. Not sure about the representatives themselves.

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6JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

I'm with irish. Cost of living in DC/Northern VA is outrageous though, I would look at number of staffers rather than what they make.

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7Erplane(476 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Clark - Does it set it at 1 per 500.000 people, or at 435 seats, divided equally by population? If your statement is correct, should we have been adding members over the years as the US population increaesed?

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8Erplane(476 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Thanks for the clarification. And it certainly isnt a GOP plot to gerrymander districts as much as possible to try to capture as much as possible (see "Ohio - 6th Congressional District").

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9valleyred(1095 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

If you want to cut the budget, you simply vote out President Obama in 2012 and vote out all Senators and Representatives in Congress in 2010 that voted for the massive spending under Bush and Obama.

By voting out Obama, we will not have to worry about a $1.85 trillion deficit!

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10Erplane(476 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

And then we should vote in a neo-con Republican who wont rack up big deficits! Oh, wait, that didnt work either...

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11valleyred(1095 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Romney 2012!
Only Republican who's approval rating is as high, if not higher than Obama's on some days.

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12epicfail(217 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Good luck with that valleyred. Romney isn't a bad guy, don't get me wrong, but chunks of your base think he's the guy the show "Big Love" is based on.

Then again... we did vote in a secret muslim!

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13valleyred(1095 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

I had issues with his the whole Mormon thing at first, but after hearing him speak over the past year, I really believe Romney is the only Republican that can beat Obama. I'd love to see the two debate.

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14epicfail(217 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

"I'd love to see the two debate."

Agreed! That would be interesting....

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15Erplane(476 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

John Huntsman would have been an interesting GOP candidate. But Obama made him ambassador to China (keep your friends close but your enemies closer?). I still see Huntsman as a leading GOP man in 2016

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