How Much Should Congressmen and Senators Make?

politics : Diet judgment: How generous are Austria and the USA to their MPs?

FPÖ politicians receive 9,239 marks, US senators collect donations

Diets, as well as the retirement benefits of parliamentarians, are repeatedly the subject of criticism in Germany. The Federal Constitutional Court ruled 25 years ago that the diets that have turned from an expense allowance into a real income over the years should be taxed in the future. The court also ruled in 1975 that every MP was entitled to an equal amount of compensation, with the exception of the Speaker of Parliament and his deputy.

Austria: No pensions

The matter came at the worst possible time: a few days before the Austrian parliamentary elections in 1999, the President of the Court of Auditors announced, in accordance with the legal situation, that politicians' salaries would rise by 3.33 percent. "A slap in the face of the little people," said Jörg Haider and called for a clear round. The other parties had to go along with that. They contented themselves with an increase of 0.6 percent. Since then, it has been the case that politicians' salaries no longer rise according to the per capita income in the population, but rather according to the inflation rate or the development of pensions, whichever is lower. A member of parliament currently receives 14 monthly salaries at 14,394.51 marks each; a parliamentary group leader for 24,470.51 marks each. It is assumed that MPs will continue their civil profession, albeit to a limited extent. For parliamentary group chairmen and parliamentary president (30,228.29 Marks) "professional ban" applies. The remuneration is fully taxable. Special services are limited; for academic staff, each member is entitled to 4,264 marks a month. Thanks mainly to Jörg Haider's show battle against "privileges", the politicians' pensions have been canceled. Parliamentarians have been covered by regular social security since 1997, so they are also required to pay contributions. The FPÖ has missed a party-internal special regulation. Your politicians are not allowed to earn more than 9,239 marks a month from office; they have to pay the rest to the party and its "social fund". In theory at least. pak

USA: Counting donations

The subject of diets is also brand new in the USA. It wasn't until Thursday that the House of Representatives decided that lawmakers should receive more money. So far, the annual salary is $ 141,300. As of January, it's $ 3800, or 2.7 percent more. The debate was brief - not a single MP openly spoke in favor of the increase, only one against, and then 270 of the 435 MPs voted for the third increase in just four years. After all, the next president also gets $ 400,000 a year - twice as much as Clinton's income of 200,000. In America, too, parliamentary group leaders and especially the "speaker" get more than ordinary MPs. Transparency is perfect as politicians disclose all income. Clinton, for example, made more than president in the stock market in 1999: $ 251,000. As far as money is concerned, it is not the fixed income that is important anyway, but what you collect in donations. Top senators like Mark Warner and John Kerry make $ 10 to 12 million a year. In the House of Representatives, the most zealous collect around 3 million a year. The leadership in the "House" - the Republicans Hastert, DeLay and Armey - are men with little personal wealth. By contrast, there are dozens of multimillionaires in the Senate. John F. Kennedy best illustrated the importance of diets to US politics. He never touched his salary as a member of parliament, senator and president, but always donated one hundred percent to charitable organizations. He didn't need peanuts. rvr

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