Far too often we all look at politics as an insurmountable mountain of regulations and laws that are near-indecipherable to the average person. In fact, this was the point brought up by Rep. John Conyers on July 29, 2009 when he said,
“What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?”
But this is not how Congress must be. No member of Congress should get a pass for not reading a Bill. If the Bill is too long, or too convoluted to be understood, then that Bill should be re-written as it is too flawed to be of use. Obamacare (or the Affordable Care Act if you prefer) is proof of that, even if you are a supporter of the legislation.
In addition, when I ran for Congress in 2013 – 2014, I spoke on the campaign trail and stated that I supported changing the way Congress is paid. I said then, and now, that Congress must be accountable to constituents, from the Bills they introduce and pass to perks they receive and their pay. I have thought about this, and in listening to the Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential election I was reminded that action must be taken.
Thus I present the Congressional Accountable Pay Act, or C.A.P. Act. This is my solution to the pay of Congress. I believe it is fair, simple to understand, and takes into account both the benefits of members of Congress doing their job as well as modifications for when they do not.
I am sending a copy of this Bill to Rep. Richard Hanna, my representative in Congress. At the same time I am presenting this to you, the public. Please let me know in the comments if there is something I can improve in this Bill. Did I forget anything? Can it be better?
Please feel free to send this (version 1) to your representative in Congress if you agree with it. Post it on social media, tweet it. Let us draw so much attention to this Bill, that Congress must enact it. Because WE are the Government. WE elect members of Congress, WE pay Congress, and therefore WE ultimately get to decide what and how they are paid.
Michael “Vass” Vasquez
Update – The proposal has been sent to Rep. Richard Hanna, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Charles Schumer, on 9/19/15 at 11:38pm. I will publish any response. Please let me know if there is any other member of Congress this has been sent to and when, and I will add it to the list.
** PDF of the Bill can be printed from here – C.A.P. Act PDF **
Congressional Accountable Pay Act
Purpose – In an effort to reduce the national debt and the annual deficit, and at the same time improve the accountability of members of Congress with respect to their constituents, this Act will regulate the pay of members of Congress.
1) Regardless of the base salary for any member of Congress, duly voted upon and passed by act of Congress, in the event of a deficit in the annual fiscal budget no member of Congress shall be paid the full base salary, but will have it modified. The result in modified pay are:
A) At any time that a deficit in the annual fiscal budget exists, all members pay will be adjusted from January 1st of the calendar year that said deficit occurs. Thus in Fiscal year 2016, all pay for members of Congress is modified from January 1, 2015, retroactively, with any difference to be paid to the IRS as a voluntary repayment of the National Debt.
B) If conditions under a) exist then the base pay of any member of Congress will be modified as follows -
B1) A maximum of two times (2x) the average income of constituents of the home State of the member shall be paid in that fiscal year. The average income will be determined by the Census records of the most recent applicable year published.
C) In the case that a member is found guilty of any campaign finance regulation violation; and/or misrepresents, misstates, or otherwise inaccurately reports their personal and/or campaign finances; such member will have their pay, retroactive to January 1st of the year of the offense (if in office at that time, or the first day of the start of their term of office as applicable), reduced to the State minimum of the home State or the national poverty level, whichever is the lower.
C1) Any member of Congress affected by C) will be required to repay any and all amounts paid above the retroactive modification in pay to the IRS as a voluntary repayment of the National Debt.
C2) Any member of Congress affected by C) will be eligible to have their pay reinstated to the normal base salary, as modified by 1), upon satisfactorily qualifying under the following conditions:
a) Payment of all fines and fees from the original offense and C1)
b) Cessation of their term of office, though all fines and fees from the original offense and C1) remain in place until paid.
Termination of Office
2) If a member of Congress ceases to maintain their position due to loss of (re-)election, they may qualify for retirement benefits, modified as follows:
A) If a member of Congress ceases to maintain their elected position due to conviction of a legal offense (other than a traffic misdemeanor) or ethical violation of rules for members of Congress, such member will have all retirement benefits forfeit and applied to pay the National Debt.
B) In addition, the pay of a member of Congress that qualifies under A) will be retroactively reduced to the State minimum of the home State or the national poverty level, whichever is the lower, from the date of the start of such members term(s) in Congress. Such member of Congress is required to repay any and all amounts paid above the retroactive modification in pay to the IRS as a voluntary repayment of the National Debt.
Death of member of Congress while in office
3) If a member of Congress dies while in office, benefits to spouse and decedents will remain in place as current law without modification.
4) A member serving 10 years in Congress or 2 consecutive terms, whichever is the longer, will be entitled to retirement benefits, the nature of those benefits being as per existing law, with the following modifications:
A) The member of Congress must be in good legal standing at the time of cessation of office
B) The member of Congress must serve the full time requirement of term of office
C) Retirement benefits will be calculated based on the average income of the home State of such member, per year for each year served as determined by the Census for applicable years, times two (2x).
D) A violation of Federal law, and conviction on such offense, will cease all future payments of retirement pay starting on the date of conviction.
E) Any member of Congress whose personal retirement income, from all sources combined, upon reaching 68 years of age, as verified by the IRS Taxes filed, that exceeds $200,000 annually separate of any Congressional retirement benefits, will forfeit their retirement payments to the IRS for payment of the National Debt, for as long as this criteria is met.
5) Will be paid as per the terms of Retirement as applies.
6) If any provision of this Act, or the application thereof to any person, partnership, or corporation, or circumstance, is held invalid, the remainder of this Act, and the application of such provisions to any other person, partnership, corporation, or circumstance, shall not be affected thereby.
A) Home State average income – will be determined by the US Census as the average income of a resident of a particular State, as published, in any particular year in question.
B) Deficit – is defined as any shortfall between the funding for the Federal Government as outlined by the annual congressional budget, and the tax revenues available in that fiscal year the budget applies. In addition, in any fiscal year where a congressionally approved budget is not passed and/or in force, automatically qualifies as a deficit regardless of the difference in funding and tax revenues.
C) Payments to the IRS – in any case where the pay of a member of Congress is modified under any of the stipulations enumerated by this Act, the difference and any applicable penalties will be use to pay the National Debt directly and to the full amount of that difference, immediately as the funds are received by the IRS. These payments to the National Debt cannot be deferred or repurposed or delayed in being received by the IRS, nor in being applied to the National Debt immediately.