Why Should the Senate get paid, when Federal workers do not?

This article was featured in Kolkata’s leading Bengali Language paper, Ei Samay (এই সময়). It discusses the US Government Shutdown in 2013. You can read the story behind the article on my blog. Much thanks to Tanmoy at Ei Samay for translating the article.

Here’s the original content in English:
Why does the Senate get paid, when Federal workers do not?

The country that prides itself as the “leader of the free world” is closed for business.

Extremists in Congress would rather see the U.S. burn than a budget pass with the supposedly wicked and socialist “Obamacare” intact. Since 2011 Obama and Republicans have fought a series of skirmishes over the federal government’s ability to finance it’s debt. For the first time in history the US’s credit rating has dropped below AAA because of this recurring instability.

Americans I know in Calcutta agree: the U.S. government shutdown is silly, frustrating, and a sign that the Congress is infuriatingly dysfunctional. It is sad that partisan differences can effectively hold the federal government hostage.

Despite the shutdown, Members of Congress are paid their salaries (while 800,000 federal workers are furloughed). Members of Congress should not be paid until they resolve this crisis. Surely they would compromise if they felt the pain of their own actions.

Moreover, it is unfair that one party can win more votes but have fewer seats in Congress, helping causing this mess. (Republicans won 1.8 million fewer votes in 2012 but have 50 more seats in the House.) The U.S. should proportion congressional districts using a dispassionate computer software, rather than the current state-by-state system where political parties gerrymander districts to their own advantage. Fairer congressional districts will alleviate extremism in Congress by making seats more competitive.

Let’s hope the shutdown will not cause economic reverberations here in India and worldwide. Congress needs to meet the expectations assigned to it.