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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/6/13

Means Testing For Congress

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(Article changed on October 6, 2013 at 09:46)

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Means test involves "the checking of a person's income to determine whether he qualifies for financial or social aid from a government", according to Collins English Dictionary.   Means testing is widely used and endorsed and has come of age, so to speak.   Now, it is the time to extend to government itself, to those serving in government.   It appears it is an idea whose time has come.   Means testing is so ubiquitous it ought to be used for eligibility for Congressional elections.


Mean testing is used regularly in receiving government benefits, such as health care for civilians as well as military veterans, food stamps, tax refunds for individuals and corporations.   In the case of Social Security there is a cap (means test cap) that the law does not permit taxing beyond $113,000.   Who started means testing? Government, of course. They have used it without much complaint or resistance from the public for decades.   Therefore, it is not only reasonable but plausible that it be used for Congress itself.  Means testing is everywhere in government and is conspicuously absent in Congress.   There is nothing wrong in being rich; almost everyone wants to be rich in the worst way possible. Of course there are exceptions, but they are not as prevalent. Many dream about being rich, they pine about being rich and they plan and connive. The entire lottery gambling business is immense today with most states participating in them.   The popular Powerball lottery encompasses many states with its winners garnering hundreds of millions of dollars. But we are digressing from our topic of means testing which is used extensively in government.


Means testing one's finances is so common and the next logical step is transferring the concept to Congress where 525 citizens serve the country.   Means testing eligibility of candidates would more represent the American people in Congress, instead of having primarily higher income representatives.    ABC news reported:   The median net worth of members of Congress is $913,000 and nearly half of Congress are millionaires.


The prevalence of means testing is clear so let's apply it to those running the country in Congress.   The median income is a good starting point.   Isn't it reasonable that at least 50% of those standing for election have the median income or less?   The next bracket could consist of incomes triple the median income composing the next 25% of candidates eligible to stand for election. And the final bracket could include those with incomes exceeding triple the median income. Now you cannot gainsay that median income as a qualifier for candidacy is a far more accurate representation of the country than currrently exists in Congress.  


The advantages of national means testing for candidates for Congress are overwhelming.   Now, the average American can actually participate beyond the voting booth to serving in Congress.   Those who earn the median income are eligible to be a candidate and don't have to wait until they amass a small or large fortune.   Those who earn more up to three times the median income as well as those who make beyond that are eligible. The playing field will be greatly leveled, which is the great American tradition.  


Instead of Congress being a club of predominately wealthy or influential citizens it will be composed of the heart and soul, common Americans who have not lived a life of privilege. Remember, means testing is widely used throughout the government now; it will only extend it to elective office.   There has not been any instance where means testing was rescinded by government; it is constantly being used and expanded upon in the new Affordable Care Act, for income levels determine one's policy and premiums.  


The tax codes have thousands of pages as well as the new health care law all utilizing income to determine eligibility. It is inevitable that it ought to apply to candidates for elective office.   Why apply means testing throughout government and omit the most important, Congress itself?   Fairness, objectivity and the ideal of the level playing field almost demands it.   Who knows more than the middle class itself its abiding importance for the future of the country than those who are truly "middle class"?   As CNN Money stated, "While the wealthy are able to advocate on behalf of the less fortunate, those of more moderate means tend to do a better job of representing the middle and working classes."  


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Henry Pelifian has written many columns and articles on government and current events. He has published a play THOREAU based on the life, works and words of Henry David Thoreau, a war novella and short stories based on his years overseas called (more...)

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