With record deficits Congress gives staffers new bonuses

Washington Times:

A month after they voted to punish some corporate executives for taking hefty bonus payouts, members of the House of Representatives quietly gave their own staffers a new potential bonus by making even their top-earning aides eligible for taxpayer dollars to repay their student loans.

The change, which took effect in May, means House employees earning up to $168,411, or the top level, are now eligible for government-funded subsidies to help pay down their student loans.

House officials defend the change as a job-related benefit necessary to keep the government competitive in the hiring market - the same argument corporate chieftains used to defend their own pay scales.

"There's still a tremendous demand for high-end Hill talent even in this current job market. Expanding eligibility for the benefit allows us to retain valued and seasoned personnel who might otherwise be lured away to more financially lucrative pursuits," said Kyle Anderson, a spokesman for the House Administration Committee.

The committee, which has jurisdiction over internal House employment, salaries and expenses, directed House officials to make the change.

But taxpayer advocacy groups said that straightforward salary increases - not new perks and bonuses - are the best way to attract and retain talent. Offering bonuses to some of the best-paid Capitol staffers just feeds into popular resentment toward Washington, said Thomas A. Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste.

...

Their rationale does not sound that different from the one used by AIG. But, then we always suspected Democrat leaders were hypocrites.

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