In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review January 31, 2008 / 24 Shevat 5768

Congress helps itself. Again.

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Let us pause to salute the US Congress, whose members have once again shown themselves capable of surmounting partisan friction and institutional gridlock when it comes to serving a group of Americans they care about deeply: themselves.

When the 110th Congress returned from its holiday recess two weeks ago, the mountain of unfinished business it had left behind in 2007 was still waiting — everything from judicial nominations to bilateral trade agreements to the terrorist surveillance program to the farm bill. But the gentlemen and gentlewomen of the House and Senate made sure that nothing would impede what has become almost an annual tradition: the hike in their own salaries. When the sun rose on Jan. 1, so did congressional pay, from $165,200 to $169,300 — a tidy little jump of $4,100.

This marks the ninth raise Congress has given itself over the past decade. With the exception of 1999 and 2007, every New Year's Day since 1998 has triggered a boost in congressional salaries of between $3,100 and $4,900. While the median income of US families has increased by around $11,000 since 1998, the income of their representatives in Washington has increased by more than $30,000. Considering that the latter work for the former, the imbalance between them is striking.

It is also unconstitutional.

Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution authorizes Congress to pay itself with public funds, but the 27th Amendment circumscribes that authority. It provides: "No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect until an election of Representatives shall have intervened." The amendment limits the power of Congress to change its salary by preventing any pay raise from taking effect until the voters have had their say. Members of the House and Senate are free to alter the next Congress's salary, in other words, but they are prohibited from enlarging their own.

Within months of the amendment's ratification, however, congressional pay rose by $4,100, despite the lack of a vote in the House and Senate followed by an intervening election. A law enacted in 1989 — ironically, an ethics-in-government act — guarantees senators and representatives an automatic raise every January, unless they specifically vote to reject it. Whatever the merits of that law when it was passed, its incompatibility with the 27th Amendment is obvious. The whole purpose of the amendment is to give the electorate a political check on Congress's power to determine its compensation. The whole purpose of the 1989 law is to deprive the electorate of that check.

Absent a Supreme Court ruling, Congress is not likely to cease such brazen flouting of the Constitution — and the Supreme Court has so far declined to take up the issue. (Congress sets judicial salaries, too.) A voter backlash might do the trick, but the public's abysmally low opinion of Congress rarely has any impact on Election Day. Well over 90 percent of incumbents seeking reelection are routinely returned to Congress.

Senators and representatives once understood that the right to set their own pay carried with it the responsibility to let their bosses - the American people - know what they were doing. So before taking a raise, they would hold public hearings and a roll-call vote. The process was uncomfortable, and properly so: It shouldn't be too easy for legislators to help themselves to public funds.

But fewer and fewer members of Congress seem troubled by such ethical niceties. One of the handful who try vainly each year to stop the stealth pay raise, or at least put it to a vote, is Representative Jim Matheson, a Utah Democrat first elected in 2000.

"I didn't know anything about this until I got here," Matheson said during a phone call this week. "It troubled me that we were sneaking a pay raise through in such a secretive manner. So I got up on the House floor to raise a procedural objection — and nobody else backed me up." Not until last summer did another member, Republican Lee Terry of Nebraska, join him in seeking an up-or-down vote to block the increase.

In an institution that tends to breed arrogance and self-entitlement, Matheson is at pains to remember that he works for the voters, not the other way around. "I just know most of my constituents don't benefit from an automatic adjustment in their pay each year; $169,000 sounds like a lot of money to them," he said.

It is a lot of money, and there will be more of it next year. Even more the year after that. Members of Congress may never get around to your priority, but they do look out for number one.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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