Boehner under fire: First cut should be lawmakers’ salaries

November 7, 2010

By Jordy Yager -The Hill

Soon-to-be Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) is being pressed by taxpayer groups to slash the salaries of House lawmakers.

Cutting member pay would show voters the new GOP majority in the House is going to lead by example in their efforts to rein in spending and start with their own wallets, say officials with three prominent taxpayer advocacy groups in Washington, D.C.

“There has to be a visible gesture that people can immediately relate to,” said Pete Sepp, the executive vice president of the conservative National Taxpayers Union.

“And cutting pay would be one of the best symbols, because unlike virtually anything else the federal government does, when Congress spends money on its own salaries and benefits, people can make a direct comparison to their own situation,” Sepp said.

The last three House Speakers swept into the leadership role with the issuance of symbolic gestures, which typically correlates to the campaign platform that delivered them to power, said Sarah Binder, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution.

“[The symbolic moves] create images that build the party’s reputation and say, ‘This is what Republican rule means and these are things we stand for,’” Binder said. “These are symbolic things that a Speaker would want to do to set a tone or a message.

Boehner is slated to receive a $30,100 pay increase next year when he becomes Speaker of the House. His annual salary will be $223,500. The base pay for House and Senate lawmakers is $174,000, while majority and minority leaders each make $193,400 per year.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, said that no decision has been made to slash members’ salaries, but pointed to the promises the GOP made in its “Pledge to America” in September.

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