Senate's Performance and Pay

About the only thing you got right in the editorial "The Senate Pay Raise," July 22, was the prediction that you would get a lot of letters. For starters, the statement that many senators will not get a net increase with their $23,200 raise defies logic. According to your own figures, they will give up a maximum of $23,068 in honorariums. I learned that $23,200 is greater than $23,068.While the old system may not have been perfect, it had at least one virtue: Senators had to earn their extra money. Now, however, they get it automatically. Instead of "hustling speech fees from special interests," once again it is the taxpayer who gets hustled. And who really believes - with our recession, huge deficit, nagging social problems, and burdensome taxes - that senators have earned a raise larger than many people make in a year? If the stated desire to clean up the old system is genuine and not just an excuse to raid the US Treasury, why not simply outlaw honorariums or punish those who can't handle them ethically? Why force taxpayers to pay for our representatives' past abuses of position? There's nothing ethical about this "reform." Stan Guthrie, Wheaton, Ill.

Your position on the Senate pay raise confirms my support for your reasonableness and balance in considering all things, regardless of what's popular. Russell Davidson, Redford, Mich.

Clearly it is not unreasonable for senators to receive a salary of $125,000. That, however, is not the issue. The manner in which the Senate voted the increase is just plain tacky. If political leaders would stop playing such games and would exercise forthright explanation and leadership, they might well find greater support on the part of the American people. Why can't Congress adjust its salary annually for inflation? That is the way most Americans receive pay increases. Had the Senate taken that action, there would have been no need for a $23,000 increase all in one year. James L. Caplinger, Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Why not eliminate the salaries and keep the honorariums? At least that way congressional salaries would be voluntarily paid by a plethora of private organizations, not by taxpayers, and perhaps members of Congress, lured by honorariums, would spend more time away from Washington, where they can inflict less damage on overburdened taxpayers. David Ridenour, Washington

The elimination of honorariums is a very small step in the right direction in reducing the influence of special interests. The ultimate goal must be to pack the bags of the PACs by instituting public financing of all public offices. We must be willing to pay whatever it takes to give the government back to the people. Ashok Iyer, Placentia, Calif.

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