If you want to live the high life, you don’t have to become a rap star, a professional athlete or a Wall Street banker. All it really takes is winning an election. Right now, more than half of all the members of Congress are millionaires, and most of them leave “public service” far wealthier than when they entered it. Since most of them have so much money, you would think that they would be willing to do a little “belt-tightening” for the sake of the American people. After all, things are supposedly “extremely tight” in Washington D.C. right now.
In fact, just the other day Nancy Pelosi insisted that there were “no more cuts to make” to the federal budget. But even as they claim that things are so tough right now, our politicians continue to live the high life at the expense of U.S. taxpayers. The statistics that I am about to share with you are very disturbing. Please share them with everyone that you know.
According to the Weekly Standard, an absolutely insane amount of money is being spent on the “hair care needs” of U.S. Senators…
Senate Hair Care Services has cost taxpayers about $5.25 million over 15 years. They foot the bill of more than $40,000 for the shoeshine attendant last fiscal year. Six barbers took in more than $40,000 each, including nearly $80,000 for the head barber.
Keep in mind that there are only 100 U.S. Senators, and many of them don’t have much hair left at this point.
But hair care is just the tip of the iceberg. The following are 21 other ways that our politicians are living the high life at your expense…
#1 According to Roll Call’s annual survey of Congressional wealth, the super wealthy in Congress just continue to get much wealthier even though they are supposedly dedicating their lives to “public service”…
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) is the richest Member of Congress for the second year in a row, reporting a vast fortune that in 2011 had a minimum net worth surpassing $300 million for the first time.
McCaul is followed by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who reported a minimum net worth of $198.65 million, and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who reported a minimum net worth of $140.55 million. The two lawmakers swapped places since last year’s list.
The lawmakers who round out the top five, Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), also flipped positions from 2010 to 2011, with Warner’s reported minimum worth rising about $9 million to $85.81 million and Rockefeller’s minimum worth rising slightly to $83.08 million.
#2 Amazingly, the 50th most wealthy member of Congress has a net worth of 6.14 million dollars.
#3 At this point, more than half of those “serving the American people” in Congress are millionaires.
#4 In one recent year, an average of $4,005,900 of U.S. taxpayer money was spent on “personal” and “office” expenses per U.S. Senator.
#5 Once they leave Washington, former members of Congress continue to collect huge checks for the rest of their lives…
In 2011, 280 former lawmakers who retired under a former government pension system received average annual pensions of $70,620, according to a Congressional Research Service report. They averaged around 20 years of service. At the same time, another 215 retirees (elected in 1984 or later with an average of 15 years of service) received average annual checks of roughly $40,000 a year.
#6 Speaker of the House John Boehner would bring home a yearly pension of close to $85,000 if he left Congress when his current term ends in 2014.
#7 At this point, quite a few former lawmakers are collecting federal pensions for life worth at least $100,000 annually. That list includes such notable names as Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Trent Lott, Dick Gephardt and Dick Cheney.
#8 The U.S. government is spending approximately 3.6 million dollars a year to support the lavish lifestyles of former presidents such as George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
#9 Nearly 500,000 federal employees now make at least $100,000 a year.
#10 During one recent year, the average federal employee in the Washington D.C. area received total compensation worth more than $126,000.
#11 During one recent year, compensation for federal employees came to a grand total of approximately 447 billion dollars.
#12 If you can believe it, there are 77,000 federal workers that make more than the governors of their own states do.
#13 When Joe Biden and his staff took a trip to London, the hotel bill cost U.S. taxpayers $459,388.65.
#14 Joe Biden and his staff also stopped in Paris for one night. The hotel bill for that one night came to $585,000.50.
#15 When Biden and his staff visited Moscow for two days in 2011, the total hotel bill came to $665,445.00.
#16 During 2012, the salaries of Barack Obama’s three climate change advisers combined came to a grand total of more than $370,000.
#18 It is estimated that the trip that the Obamas took to Africa cost U.S. taxpayers about 100 million dollars.
#19 The Obamas only have one dog named “Bo”, but the White House “dog handler” reportedly makes $102,000 per year and sometimes he is even flown to where the Obamas are vacationing so that he can take care of the dog.
#20 There is always at least one projectionist at the White House 24 hours a day just in case there is someone that wants to watch a movie. Apparently turning on a DVD player is too much to ask.
#21 In one recent year, more than 1.4 billion dollars was spent on the Obamas. Meanwhile, British taxpayers only spent about 58 million dollars on the entire royal family.
So who pays for all of this extravagance?
The American people do of course.
Unfortunately, what most of our politicians fail to understand is that most families are struggling tremendously right now.
This week, Yahoo featured the story of a 77-year-old former executive that is now flipping burgers and serving drinks to make ends meet. He says that he now earns in a week what he once earned in a single hour, but he is thankful to have a job in this economic environment…
It seems like another life. At the height of his corporate career, Tom Palome was pulling in a salary in the low six-figures and flying first class on business trips to Europe.
Today, the 77-year-old former vice president of marketing for Oral-B juggles two part-time jobs: one as a $10-an-hour food demonstrator at Sam’s Club, the other flipping burgers and serving drinks at a golf club grill for slightly more than minimum wage.
While Palome worked hard his entire career, paid off his mortgage and put his kids through college, like most Americans he didn’t save enough for retirement. Even many affluent baby boomers who are approaching the end of their careers haven’t come close to saving the 10 to 20 times their annual working income that investment experts say they’ll need to maintain their standard of living in old age.
So many Americans are barely making it from month to month at this point. Most people work very, very hard for their money, and it is very discouraging to see our politicians waste our hard-earned tax dollars so frivolously.
Fortunately, there are signs that the American people are starting to get fed up with all of this.
According to a stunning new Gallup survey, more Americans than ever before (60 percent) believe that the federal government has too much power.
So what do you think?
Do you think that the government is too big and too wasteful?
Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…
This article first appeared here at the Economic Collapse Blog. Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.