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Jeff Jacoby

Pull the parachute

Congress should cut its salaries and pensions

A YEAR ago this week, just two days before being shot by a deranged assailant in her district, Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona introduced legislation to cut congressional salaries by 5 percent, from $174,000 to $165,300.

Needless to say, the bill didn’t become law — the last time the House and Senate actually trimmed their members’ pay was during the Great Depression. Yet there are few things Congress could do that would be more certain to win public esteem. In a national poll commissioned last month by The Hill, a Washington newspaper, 67 percent of voters said lawmakers should be paid less. With Congress’s approval rating barely above single digits, and with so many Americans feeling the sting of a weak economy, you might think support for a modest one-time pay cut would be a no-brainer — especially since congressional pay has been hiked 10 times since 1998.

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