Democratic Leader Harry Reid has impressed himself by (wait for it) keeping a promise to stop automatic pay raises for Members of Congress (see story in Politico).

Senator David Vitter (R-LA) had been pushing to include such a measure on the now-famous 9,000-earmark Omnibus Appropriations bill, but his amendment was defeated by Democrats (“Senate rejects pay raise proposal”).

Thank goodness Vitter stood up to Reid, but can’t we expect more from Congress.  This week in 1933, Congress cut its pay (that’s a cut, not foregoing a raise, or a decrease in the rate of increase, an actual cut). They reduced their salaries by more than 5 percent (from $9,000 to $8,500) and that was on top of a 10 percent cut a year earlier. Those cuts were the first in 60 years, that cut having been a response to the Panic of 1873 (“Weekly Historical Highlights,” Clerk of the House).

In the same bill, Congress gave FDR authority to reduce all Federal employee salaries by 15 percent.

Before I send a congratulatory note to Senator Reid, I’ll wait for the congressional pay cut. And perhaps President Obama will seek authority to reduce Federal employee salaries, rather than raising them by 2 percent as he proposed in his budget.

I’m a realist. I’d settle for the Congress not increasing the Federal employee raise during the approrpriations process.

But the next time you hear a Member of Congress making a comparison to the Great Depression, remind them how the Congress responded in 1933.