Only the ‘rich’ can serve in Congress?

Alcee Hastings must not be a wealthy man.

The Florida Democratic U.S. representatives wants a pay raise from the 174 grand he makes annually. He says “only rich people” are able to serve in Congress, given the paltry sum House members and senators earn each year.

Please. Stop.

Have members of Congress earned a pay raise? Consider a little bit of information here.

The latest average of polls compiled by puts congressional approval rating at about 15 percent. Fifteen percent of Americans think Congress is doing a good job. The polls don’t ask voters, more than likely, whether they think Congress deserves a raise.

As for Hastings’s assertion that only rich people can serve now, I want to add two quick points.

One, did he not know how much the office paid when he chose to run for Congress when he was impeached by Congress and tossed off the federal bench after being convictedĀ of bribery and perjury by the Senate?

Two, there exist plenty of examples of members of Congress enriching themselves while serving on Capitol Hill. One example that comes to mind immediately is my former congressman, the lateĀ Jack Brooks, a Democrat from Beaumont, who used to cite how poor he was when he was elected toĀ Congress in 1952, but who acquired tremendous wealth by virtue of his serving on a number of bank and other corporate boards.

The only possible positive I can see in Hastings’s demand for more money lies in the U.S. Constitution’s 27th Amendment, which says: “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.”