Rich Galen

How much do Members of the U.S. House and Senate make? Are they suffering as are regular people? Do they feel the pain of tax increases and new regulations?

In reverse order: No. No. And $174,000 per year.

In addition Members of Congress get a tax break on their housing, have health care completely paid for by you and me, and have a pretty good retirement system although the other benefits are so good you can't get them to retire much before their 113th birthday, on average.

That $174,000 is for the rank-and-file, show-up-for-work four-days-a-week members of the House and Senate. You want to be really aggravated? The Speaker of the House, who happens to be Nancy Pelosi, and who happens to be one of the wealthiest members of Congress, makes $223,500.

And she gets to fly home on an Air Force jet which the rank-and-file, show-up-for-work four-days-a-week members of the House and Senate do not get to do.

I do not mention this because I am particularly angry with Members of the House and Senate - at least not any more than usual. I mention all this because of California.

The California fiscal year ended at midnight last night, June 30. They ain't got no money.

California - the state which is held in such high regard by the Obama Administration that they just shoved through a global warming bill which is largely based on California standards - is more than in fiscal distress. It is bankrupt. Bust. Broke. Penniless. Insolvent.

Starting this morning - July 1 - the State of California is, according to the Associated Press "talking about handing out $3 billion in IOUs to everyone from contractors to welfare recipients."

In spite of the fact that the State of California is about $24 billion in the hole, state legislators still get a $36,000 tax-free annual expense benefit plus a $4,200 annual reimbursement for the costs of their cars.

Who pays for your car? YOU? Bwaaaahhhhhahahahaha! Run for public office, Sparky. Let the little people pick up the tab!

I think is going to start issuing IOUs to its vendors.

You think Blue Cross will continue to cover me if I send an IOU instead of the ever-larger check they have been demanding? You think Safeway will allow me to continue to buy my favorite cheap red wine if I present a IOU instead of an American Express Card? Do you think my favorite Exxon station in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia will allow me to hand them an IOU for the $75 bucks it takes to fill the tank of the Mullmobile?

I. Don't. Think. So.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at