One of the proposals that is gaining traction in light of Congress's inability to pass a federal budget is the so-called "No Budget, No Pay" proposal, in which members of Congress would stop being paid if they do not pass a federal budget on time. A new nationwide poll shows that support for this concept is so strong that 72% of American voters support a Constitutional amendment to that effect.
The question was asked as part of a survey conducted by Clarus Research Group for Common Good, the nonpartisan government reform coalition. The precise question asked and the responses are as follows:
Would you support the "no budget, no pay" amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would stop paying salaries to members of Congress if they do not timely pass a federal budget, yes or no?
- Yes 72%
- No 23%
- (VOLUNTEERED) Don't know/no answer 5%
Congressman Jim Cooper of Tennessee, who has introduced legislation to enact "No Budget, No Pay" into law (rather than a Constitutional amendment), writes about the concept in an article published on July 26th by TheAtlantic.com, as part of its America the Fixable series. In the article, "How to Get Congress on Good Behavior", he writes:
"If taxpayers want better results from Congress, they must stop paying their elected officials for failure… Today's Congress has not passed a budget in three years and has not completed all of its budget and appropriations bills on time in 15 years. Few incumbents can even remember meeting these obligations… The dirty secret of today's Congress is that many members actually benefit from missing our financial deadlines. When they hold up negotiations, highlight a parochial cause, and take a budget or appropriations bill hostage, they get lots of free publicity and become a hero to the special interests they are protecting."
"Congress is broken," said Philip K. Howard, Founder and Chair of Common Good. "The 'No Budget, No Pay' proposal is one that should be actively discussed in this election season. It's time to focus on the break-down of our government and publicly discuss ways to fix it."
America the Fixable is hosted by TheAtlantic.com in partnership with Common Good. America the Fixable brings together prominent leaders from both major political parties, and other leading experts, to discuss a new topic of national importance each month. This month's topic is "Improving Politics, Elections, and Government."
The survey was conducted June 21-25, 2012 by Clarus Research Group, a nonpartisan survey firm based in Washington, D.C. The survey sample included 1,000 self-identified registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.1%. Interviewing was conducted through live telephone calls, using both landline and cell calling.