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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?

About the Author

Karie Dozer is host of Arizona's Noon News.

She has been an on-air personality nearly continually since her college days. She loves radio because it is intelligent, immediate and almost always available.

She is the youngest of nine children from a Midwestern Catholic family where she learned to be heard, fight for a place at the table and find humor in almost everything. She was hired as a news intern while a senior at ASU's Cronkite School, and found that covering human stories like the OJ Simpson white Bronco chase and the 1992-93 Phoenix Suns was too much fun to pass up.

She loved life in the newsroom with all the action and crazy personalities to go with it. She anchored and covered some sports too, until politics dragged her away. She served as press secretary for Arizona's Attorney General Grant Woods for a five-year stint before jumping back to radio on a part-time basis. Three years ago she got back in the biz on a more regular basis as a midday host on what is now KTAR News. She has a passion for the breaking news of the moment, education, local politics, great food, sports and fitness. She has trouble turning down a good argument, a good book or a good glass of wine.

In her spare time she takes care of her boys, (husband Rich, son Jack, and yellow lab Buddy,) and bakes awesome chocolate chip cookies. She enjoys the quality of life the Valley offers her family and the natural beauty of Arizona. Her favorite places are golf courses, her own kitchen, the city of Flagstaff, and wherever her family is.

She considers herself lucky to work with the amazingly talented people of KTAR radio.


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