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Congress should refuse raises

Times are tough for many working men and women. Millions are having to deal with unemployment. Many more understand that next year will be tough for their companies. Pay raises normally given out for good work may not occur.

Unless you are a member of Congress. Members of the House of Representatives and Senate are to receive $4,700 salary increases Jan. 1. That will take the base pay of 535 lawmakers up to $174,000 per year.

There will be no need for lawmakers to vote on the proposal. Several years ago, Congress passed a measure that makes such cost-of-living increases automatic. They can be stopped only if senators and representatives vote specifically to suspend them.

It will not surprise you that there has been little interest exhibited in that idea, at least on Capitol Hill. According to one report, a bill to suspend the raises has been introduced in the House -- but it has just 34 co-sponsors.

We realize that some members of Congress work hard. We understand that living in Washington is expensive. But many taxpayers work hard and have trouble making ends meet too. A substantial number of them are having to tighten their belts because of the downturn in the economy.

Members of Congress should set a good example by refusing the raises. -- Fergus Falls Daily Journal