President Ford's last budget goes to Congress today and one of the few items that will get any attention from the Democratic majority is the proposal he will make for substantial pay raises for top elected and appointed officials.
Mr Ford's pay plan will be based on a report made by a blue-ribbon citizens group last month. It recommended 20 to 40 per cent raises for members of Congress, judges and political appointees linked with a self-imposed conflict-of-interest code by Congress. Mr. Ford doesn't have to follow those amounts, but by law he must make some pay recommendations today and those proposals will go into effect automatically within 30 days unless vetoed by either the House or Senate.
Whatever amounts he recommends will benefit, to some extent, more than 20,000 career civil servants whose pay is compressed by the statutory lid on rates for the lowest echelon (Level 5) politically appointed executives.
While there will be attempts to block the pay raise - or at least to block it for members of Congress - both the Democratic and Republican leaderships have tentatively okayed a pay raise. They would like to link it to reform, or at least the promise of reform, or at least the promise of reform but they don't have to do that.
All Congress has to do, in effect, is nothing for 30 days. If the President proposes pay raises it will be up to Senate and House leaders to defeat or block attempts to kill or defer the increases. Then they would go into effect automatically. Details on Tuesday.