Pundits constantly remind us that American politics is more polarized than ever. The politicians of both parties increasingly resort to hard-line negotiating tactics rather than attempt to find common ground for agreement on behalf of the American people. Anger and bitterness, usually blamed on bloggers and talk radio, keep the two tribes of Washington politics from conducting positive work on public policy.
Poppycock, says I. Rubbish! Our boys and girls in Washington can come to bipartisan consensus … when it benefits themselves:
Despite low approval ratings and hard feelings from last year’s elections, Democrats and Republicans in the House are reaching out for an approximately $4,400 pay raise that would increase their salaries to almost $170,000.
The cost-of-living raise endorsed Wednesday evening gets lawmakers back on track for automatic pay raises after a fight between the parties last year and again in January killed the pay increase due this year. That was the first interruption of the annual congressional pay boost in seven years.
The blowup came after Democrats last year fulfilled a campaign promise to deny themselves more pay until Congress raised the minimum wage. Delays in the minimum wage bill cost every lawmaker about $3,100 this year.
On a 244-181 vote Wednesday, Democrats and Republicans alike killed a bid by Reps. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, and Lee Terry, R-Neb., to get a direct vote to block the COLA, which is automatically awarded unless lawmakers vote to block it. The Senate has not indicated when it will deal with a similar measure.
How about that for a bipartisan consensus? Congress managed to come together to ensure positive public policy for the American people — well, okay, 535 of them, but they’re still Americans, right?
They’re going to get their 2.6% cost-of-living adjusment. Coincidentally, that may also be their approval rating by the end of this session.