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Final Word: The cost of being in Congress

As we wrap up another year and Congress finally gets SOMEWHERE on a budget deal, here are some amazing numbers on how much work your congressman (or congresswoman) does.

True, congressional approval ratings hover around 8 percent, but have you ever given a thought to what your congressman does every day?

A recent study by the National Journal looked at the amount of time spent on various parts of the jobs.

Here’s a peek:

While in Washington, 35 percent of a congressman’s day is spent on legislative and policy work. An additional 34 percent is spent on constituent services work and campaign events.

So, essentially, you’re talking about congressional hearings and staff meetings, returning calls to people in your district and raising money for another run.
Most of that is direct lawmaking and bill writing, and the rest is what helps guarantee he or she will HAVE a job come next election cycle.

Nearly 10 percent of his or her time is spent on media relations, which, coming from inside the media, I will tell you can be NO fun at all.

Administrative work amounts to 7 percent of the day, leaving 6 percent for personal time and 9 percent for family.

Now, I know what you may be thinking: “Wait, don’t congressmen make a lot of money?!”

Not so much.

True, the salary for a congressman averages about $174,000, but he or she takes home only about $100,000 of that.

Add in the fact that the congressperson has to maintain two residences and keep up appearances at both, and you haven’t got a lot of money left.

And what other job gets as much criticism?

I can’t think of too many, except maybe a college football kicker. And they don’t even get paid.

And don’t forget: Your congressman usually has to keep smiling, even when he’s not in the mood to get his picture taken.

Can you say the same for yourself when you’re at work?