Institutions

On Rick Perry’s Proposal to Cut the Pay of Members of Congress

John Sides Nov 16 '11

The pay of members of the House of Representatives, in constant 1913 dollars.

This comes from Matt Glassman.  More is here.

The broader problem with Perry’s proposal, as Kevin Collins noted, is that “de-professionalizing” the legislature by cutting pay and the like would actually make Congress less responsive to voters.  He cites this paper (pdf) by Jeffrey Lax and Justin Phillips.  In it, they find that the congruence between state policy and voters’ opinions is stronger in states with professionalized legislatures — where professionalism is captured by legislators’ salaries, the number of days the legislature is in session, and the number of staff assigned to legislators.

In short, if you want public policy to reflect popular will, don’t stock the legislature with amateurs.