By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist
Last week, a poll by Rasmussen Reports found that only 5 percent of Americans say Congress is doing a good job; 68 percent say Congress is doing a poor job.
There are 535 elected officials in the two branches of the U.S. Congress. The Senate has 100 members (two from each state) with six-year terms. One ofNew?? Jersey?s senators, Democrat Bob Menendez, is up for election this year.
The House of Representatives has 435 members ? one for each of the 435 congressional districts around the country. Each district has roughly 646,000 people. All 435 House members are up for election this year ? including Republican Frank LoBiondo who represents the 2nd District of New Jersey?s 12 congressional districts. We used to have 13, butNew Jerseylost one because so many people moved out of our state during the past 10 years.
Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution gives very short two-year terms to members of the House. That is because Article I, Section 7 requires all laws that collect taxes or borrow money to originate in the House. The founders of our country wanted this branch of Congress to closely represent the will of the people.
Although most Americans have opposed what Congress is doing for many years, 85 to 90 percent of all members of Congress who run for re-election win re-election anyway.? This is because most Americans think their own congressman is doing a great job, and that only the members of Congress in the other 434 districts are messing up.
Why? Just look at our own congressman, Republican Frank LoBiondo.
Most taxpayers are OK with paying him, and all 435 House members, a salary of $174,000 per year, and lifetime pensions based on their three highest salaries after just five years in office. The longer they stay in office, the fatter the pensions.
Most Americans want term limits for Congress, but just getting rid of these pensions would do the job.
According to www.legistorm.com, we also pay salaries of $1 million a year to the personal office staffs of each House member.
We pay 17 people in LoBiondo?s offices an average of $58,820 each.? They have titles like scheduler, veterans? liaison, caseworker, etc. This means their main job is to schmooze and do favors for local voters ? so those voters feel a personal obligation to support him for re-election.
And if you browse LoBiondo?s ?official website? at http://lobiondo.house.gov/press-releases, you will notice that almost all of the positive ?news? of the congressman in local newspapers, radio, and TV is written by LoBiondo?s $100,000-per-year press secretary, Jason Galanes.
Is Frank LoBiondo responsible for the mess in Congress? Of course he is. Just before the last election in 2010, when Republicans took back control of the House, I asked LoBiondo if he would vote to dump House Republican leader John Boehner after the election.
I thought it was a fair question. After all, Boehner?s out-of-control spending, pay-to-play, leadership and ramming through the Wall Street bailouts let Democrats clobber Republicans and take control in the elections of 2006 and 2008.
But LoBiondo looked at me like I had two heads when he said it was unthinkable to replace Boehner.
Two months later, LoBiondo voted with Boehner to block spending cuts in the lame duck session of 2010. In January 2011, LoBiondo voted to make Boehner the new speaker of the House. Three months later, LoBiondo supported Boehner?s deal that broke the Republican campaign promise to cut $100 billion from the federal budget. In July, LoBiondo voted with Boehner to raise the $14.2 trillion ($14,200,000,000,000) debt ceiling. That allowed the federal government to be $15.2 trillion in debt just five months later.
Just last month, LoBiondo supported Boehner?s latest deal with Democrats that now allows the 47 percent of Americans don?t pay any federal income tax to also avoid the ?payroll tax? that funds Social Security.
As long as Boehner is leading Republicans in Congress, nothing will change. And as long most Republicans in Congress are like Frank LoBiondo, Boehner will continue to lead House Republicans.
There are more than 200,000 adult citizens in our congressional District. So far, only Mike Assad of Absecon and Gary Stein of Mullica said they will run against LoBiondo.
Assad?s website says he is 24, was twice elected to the Absecon School Board, and ?attended?Stockton. It doesn?t say if he ever graduated or held a real job. Stein has run five frivolous and losing campaigns for Congress, governor and Assembly.
Is that the best we can do?
(Reprinted from January 5, 2012 Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, http://www.shorenewstoday.com/snt/news/index.php/politics/19886-blame-lobiondo-and-others-like-him-for-the-mess-in-congress.html)
Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman appears on 92.1FM 8-9 a.m. Saturday. For information see www.libertyandprosperity.org, email
or call (609) 927-7333. Breakfast discussions are held 9:30-10:30 a.m. every Saturday at the Shore Diner on Fire and Tilton roads in Egg Harbor Township.