Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"You Know It's Hard Out Here for a Member of Congress?"

Now this is interesting.  Rep. Sean Duffy (a Real World alum, and married to another Real World alum) was asked by a constituent if he would support cutting the $174,000 (not including benefits) salary for members of Congress.  Apparently, he said that he would, but his hands are tied (that's fair, in that he cannot pass something like that on his own).  Duffy then goes on to explain the difficulties in stretching $174,000, since he is a father of six (with a stay-at-home wife, and a pretty good tax deduction per kid), still paying on his mortgage (there is talk that he is actually paying mortgages on two homes in Wisconsin), and still paying his student loans (there is a tax deduction there too for all of the interest paid, up to $2,500).  Mind you, as has been noted in other reports, the constituent who asked the question let Duffy know that he makes three times less than the Congressman.  In essence, it sounds like dude wasn't buying it. 

Now, as a veteran of group house living in the District, I know that Duffy can find a good deal on a group house in the city, so that should help cut costs.  If things are really getting rough, then perhaps the other Real World alum he is married to could go out and find some work.  I am sure that she could cash in on her past fame and bring in some extra cash.  Many families have two parents working outside of the home in order to make ends meet.  These are, after all, tough times.  Ultimately, I think that anyone trying to suggest that $174,000 a year leaves you struggling should be laughed out of the room.  Your average American family would see a salary like that, again not including the benefits, as a fucking lottery win.  Maybe Duffy should re-make that classic from the movie Hustle and Flow, "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," and just change "Pimp" to "Member of Congress."


Anonymous said...

Couple of thoughts:

1) The student loan deduction begins to get phased out around 100k and is totally passed out at $174.
2) As a historian you may recall that it was progressive reformers in Victorian Britain that pushed to have MPs paid a salary. This allowed the working class, and not just the rich, to serve in parliament.
3) What do you think a fair salary would be for a family of 6 that has to maintain two residences—one in his district and one in DC? (If he moves his family to DC he’d get crushed in his next election for abandoning his district, etc.)
4) His wife staying home is probably the money saving decision. If she worked they’d have to pay daycare for several children (I don’t’ know their ages) which would likely consume anything she earns. I know a family in N. VA that pays $3500/month for two kids in daycare. That’s on the high end, but 1500/per child is typical.
5) When I worked on the Hill I knew many congressman who lived with roommates, it’s pretty typical. One slept on his daughter’s couch.
6) Maybe the congressman made better choices than his constituent, and that’s why he is paid more, or should everyone be paid the same?

hscfree said...

@Anon: first, if this is who a think it is (one who has recently returned from the phillipines), i would really like if you would end your comments with your initials, "pwc," if i am correct, so that i really know it's you.

now, 1)forgot that about the income limit. but not sure of old dude's prior salary. 2)i don't think that the US/UK comparison is really relevant here, particularly since the dynamics of who can actually afford to run for national office in this country has long been out of reach for the lower classes, especially if they are coming directly from those lower classes (Obama was upper middle class when he started in politics, mostly thanks to Michelle). 3)you need to change that to three residences, because he has two in WI, which, if money is an issue, get rid of it. also, like you've often argued, we all make choices. he chose to have 6 kids. if he couldn't afford that, is he really that different from a welfare recipient, in terms of making not economically smart choices. he could also have his family move in with relatives in his home state to save costs. 4)again, family in WI can play a role here. i've known too many people who have relied on older family members to provide daycare at a fraction of the cost that it would take for formal daycare businesses. 5)i agree that the roommate sitch would be an excellent option to save money. if we look at the C Street example for the Christianists MoC, then Duffy could bank more money. 6)that last question is a bullshit question. all people do not need to be paid the same. but we all have a responsibility to make the best with what we can get. $174K is a lot of money in any society known on this planet. and, if you are struggling on $174K, then i think the congressman is the one who made the poorer choices.