Friday, October 4, 2013

Are Low-Paid Congressional Aides also Takers?

According to a new poll, by a margin of 72-22 percent, American voters oppose Congress shutting down the federal government to block the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).

The same poll indicates that the American voters are divided on Obamacare, with 45 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed. In another survey conducted earlier by the Pew Research Center and USA TODAY, 53% of Americans disapproved of the Affordable Care Act while 42% approve. But yet, many people think the Affordable Care Act is a better deal than Obamacare, not realizing that they are both the same.

The Republicans have been driven mad by the thought that rich people will see their taxes go up slightly in order to help non-rich people get decent access to medical care. This year a 3.8% surtax is being added to the capital gains tax for earnings on stocks (and other investments) to help fund the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

The top 1% earns most of their income from capital gains. The capital gains tax rate on billionaires will go up to 23.8% --- which was 15% since 2003 --- and is still lower than the tax rate of 25% for someone earning between $36,250 and $87,850 a year in regular wages. And no Social Security taxes are paid on capital gains either. That's why capital gains should be taxed as regular income, up to 39.6%, as is the top marginal income tax rate for wages over $400,000 a year.

Are there any congressional aides in the House (who like the 47%, would also like healthcare) who might be considered "takers" by their GOP and Tea Party bosses? Some low-level congressional staffers, who answer phones and sort mail, make as little as about $28,000 a year --- about what 50% of all wage earners in the US take home.

Under an amendment to Obamacare, the government would continue to subsidize 75 percent of health benefits for members of Congress and their staffers. The GOP latched onto this new regulation as an "outrageous exemption for Congress" and a "big fat taxpayer-funded subsidy." Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), introduced bills that would strip out those employer contributions.

But Rep. Peter King (R-NY), said that junior staff members were being "sacrificed" for a political game. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told ABC that bumping up health care costs for staffers was "probably not a good idea," adding that low-paid staffers will "suffer." Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Florida), is of the same mind: "If you're going to stick pins in a voodoo doll, the doll shouldn't be people who work for you."

Brad Fitch, the president and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation, said staffers are vastly underpaid compared to other professions. “Confessional staff get 20 to 30 percent less than they'd get in the private sector."

Julian Zelizer, a professor at Princeton University, says jacking up health care costs for low-paid aides is not only mean; it could cause brain drain on Capital Hill. "If you take away essentials and make basic things like health care much harder for them, it will lead them to go into the private sector." (A government worker, who was not laid off during a government shutdown, will quit their job to look for another job --- in this economy?)

In a survey, 66 percent of congressional staffers cited their healthcare/medical coverage as the top benefit of their jobs. Evidently most of their GOP bosses --- the Republican members of Congress --- don't considered their hired help as "moochers and takers" for wanting affordable healthcare and better wages for being over-worked.

1 comment:

  1. Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) says he works hard and earns his paychecks, so therefore he won't forgo his paycheck in the government shutdown. He's not a slacker or a taker, only those who were laid off from their jobs are lazy bums.

    Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Tex.) yelled at a park ranger, who was doing nothing more than her job -- but he blamed her for the park's closure (that he voted for) and telling her that she should be ashamed of herself.

    Is it just me, or are most Republicans in Congress just total dicks? And what does that say about the people who voted for them in their gerrymandered districts?