It is a thorny issue, or, maybe I should say, many thorny issues.  Should members of Congress be paid a great salary and fantastic benefits (like they are now) to encourage participation from a broad spectrum of the population and to attract the best possible candidates?  Or should they be paid the average national wage and benefit package?  One way would help recruit more talented people, but it would encourage them to make a career of the job.  The other would only recruit people who want to give their time or who want to use their position to get benefits that are off the accounts.

Similar, but I think more important, is the issue of how the Members act when they are in Congress.  Most of the incentives in Congress today are focussed on remaining in office as a career.  The powerful jobs are held by those with the most time in service.   To get reelected, Members must have serious funding.  That often comes from advocating for powerful and well funded lobbies.

So what must be done to have a Congress that does right, not a Congress that does what is expedient?

Easy answer:  You elect good, ethical people who want to go to Washington for one or two terms to do the people’s business.

Wrong answer:  You send the wrong people to Washington and try to control them with Ethics Rules and Ethics Committees.

Would any ethical person you know have been a party to a $300,000,000 bribe to gain the vote of a Nebraska Senator?  Would any ethical person you know even consider using his or her position to give a government contract for goods or services to his or her child’s company?

In my view, if we want an Ethical Congress, we will have to elect it.  Trying to legislate it like we now do ends up with the fox guarding the hen house.  Any candidate who claims to have plans to legislate the ethics of the Congress probably knows how to get around those rules to his or her advantage.

Let’s look at the backgrounds of our candidates and elect one’s who have proven by past action that their ethics are above question and more like normal citizens than like Washington Elites.