Jim Cooper proposes we “stop paying Congress” if U.S. defaults

Posted on July 29, 2011


Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN)

In a statement from U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper of Tennessee:

“The Constitution protects congressional pay (how convenient!) but our payroll checks should be dead last on any priority list after default. It’s my hope this punishment will get my colleagues’ attention and make them more interested in working together. I don’t blame the public for wanting to get rid of everyone in Congress.”

Unfortunately, getting rid of Congressional salaries would have essentially no effect on the national debt and certainly wouldn’t save America’s bond rating in the event of a default.  Not to mention, most members of Congress (including Jim Cooper) would probably not even notice if they stopped getting paid for a few weeks.  However, I do applaud the Blue Dog Democrat for taking a stand against paying his fellow Congressmen.

Conservatives will point to the fact that Cooper himself has contributed to expanding the government vastly over the last few years by assisting in drafting the original stimulus package in 2009 and voting for the Patient Health and Affordable Care Act.  Such critics would be hypocrites, because Republican elected officials have contributed to exacerbating the national debt just as much if not more than Democrats have.

Many on the left, on the other hand, will be quick to call this statement no more than political posturing on Cooper’s part–liberal populism used to disguise a man who has a rather conservative voting record for a Democrat.  Some progressives will never forgive him for voting against the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, a vote he defended by saying, “Many small businesses will suffer unnecessarily [due to this law].”

However, I believe that Jim Cooper is one of the few centrist Congressmen who is not a complete cynic.  He is one of the only Blue Dog Democrats who does not seek earmarks; there is no better sign of how serious a politician is about limiting government spending than his record on earmarks.  So many politicians, left and right, stress how important it is for the government to live within its means, then fight like hell to “bring home the bacon” for their own constituents.  They are the epitome of what is wrong with Washington D.C. and the American public today:  people who call for everyone else in the country to tighten their belts, while they themselves refuse to make even the slightest sacrifice.  Cooper is not only willing to set an example on cutting down on pork barrel spending in Washington, he is even willing to give up his own paycheck in sheer shame of his institution.

He is the Anti-Specter.