Taken as whole, with exceptions, the American people have the strangest attitude toward the Congress. Our national legislature spends nearly a quarter of our income and affects us one way or another every day of the year. Yet too many people withdraw in disgust instead of making Congress accountable to them. Warren Buffett once said, “It’s time for 535 of America’s citizens to remember what they owe to the 318 million who employ them.”
People have a low regard for Capitol Hill. Polls show less than 20% of people approve of what Congress does and does not do. In April a poll registered a 14% approval rate. People know that Congress takes a lot of days off – all with pay. Senators and Representatives work over 100 fewer days than average Americans do. Specifically, members were in session 157 days in 2015 and 135 in 2014. This year the House is scheduled to be in session for only 111 days, with the August recess alone stretching nearly six weeks.
People also know that these politicians feather their own nests. At a minimum, members of Congress receive a $174,000 annual salary, plus a great pension, health and life insurance, assorted deductions and expenses. These are benefits that many Americans can only dream of getting.