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Institutions are still important, even in America

I try not to venture into American politics much on this blog but there is one thing that’s really bothered me that I haven’t seen addressed elsewhere.  I know this is somewhat outdated, as Rick Perry is yesterday’s news, but why did no one challenge him on the idea that he would cut Congress’ pay in half?

“The idea that [a congressman or woman] makes three times what the average family makes is really obscene,” he said. “[They] need to have their salaries cut in half, they need to spend half as much on their budget, and they need to be in Washington half the time.”

It is somewhat depressing that in no debate, no member of the media, or no other candidate, bothered to ask Perry where in the Constitution the president has the authority to determine congressional pay.  If someone did, Perry’s famous three branches of government mishap would have have become his second most embarrassing debate moment.  That’s because the president does not determine congressional pay. Congress does.  The president is not the boss of congress, even though people only seem to hold the former accountable.   It’s this same lack of knowledge of how American institutions work that leads otherwise smart people to speculate how a third party president could really change things.

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