Would you take a job in the public sector that offered the following for an entry-level employee?
  • $174,000 in annual compensation
  • An inflation-adjusted pension plan that was two or three times more generous than those offered to similarly paid private-sector employees
  • A health-care plan that included vision and dental benefits, health savings accounts, life and long-term-care insurance, and free outpatient treatment (not extended to family members) at military hospitals
  • An annual office budget ranging from about $1 million to $4 million per year to pay for staff, with a separate office furniture budget on top of that
  • A liberal travel budget, though less so than it was several years ago
  • A full contingent of paid legal holidays, plus a week off for President’s Day and Memorial Day and frequent recesses regardless of whether your work was done or not
  • Free parking at the office and at local major airports for when you travel
  • An assortment of other privileges and perks far too numerous to mention here
You probably know by now that I am speaking of members of Congress. Given this level of compensation and comparing it to U.S. Census data, it can be calculated that a typical member of Congress earns (if you’ll pardon the great leap of faith here) more than 97% of his or her constituents.

Now, those of us with a reasonable work ethic might expect someone receiving such a compensation package to put their all into their work – each and every day. And so I come to my point. Last summer, Congress and the Obama Administration agreed to a budget-ceiling deal, enacted by Congress as the Budget Control Act of 2011. This law created a Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction – the so-called “Super Committee,” a gross misnomer if ever I’ve heard one. The only job of this committee was to formulate a list of budget cuts that would reduce this country’s budget deficit by $1.2 trillion during the next 10 years. Further, the Committee’s work was not to be hampered by the introduction of amendments – its work was to be subject to an up-or-down vote – or the threat of filibuster in the Senate.

The Super Committee’s plan was to be voted on in committee last Nov. 23, but, alas, the Committee announced on Nov. 21 that it would not meet its deadline. After last summer’s budget-ceiling debacle, one would expect the Congressional Super Committee to have bent over backwards to get the job done in a timely manner and show the American people their Congress really was working. Instead, they again lived down to everyone’s expectation and failed miserably to meet the mandate of a Congressional act. If a private citizen failed to abide by an Act of Congress, contempt proceedings would probably be the result.

I try to resist the temptation to toss all of Congress into the category of overpaid and underworked elitist politicians. There may be some members who are really trying to earn their paychecks and provide leadership and inspiration to the American electorate, but the only name I can come up with that meets that bill is Gabrielle Giffords.