Populism: Democrat says Congress is underpaid
posted at 7:21 pm on April 4, 2014 by Mary Katharine Ham
At a paltry thrice the median income in this country, this group of mostly millionaires just isn’t getting a handsome enough sum to deliver on their jobs, says Rep. Jim Moran. That’s my Congressman!
“I think the American people should know the members of Congress are underpaid,” Moran, D-Va., told CQ Roll Call. “I understand that it’s widely felt they underperform, but the fact is that this is the board of directors for the largest economic entity in the world.”
Moran says the congressional salary isn’t enough for some lawmakers, who have to pay for housing in Washington and in their home districts. He notes there are members who sleep in their offices, rent “little” apartments or rooms from others on Capitol Hill or share housing with their colleagues while they go about their business in Washington.
The congressman, who will retire at the end of this term, plans to introduce an amendment to the spending bill that funds the legislative branch that would give lawmakers a per diem.
“Who will retire at the end of this term” seems to be the operative phrase in this genius plan. Audio at the link.
As for a dollar amount, Moran hasn’t yet thought that through. He said it would probably be consistent with what the federal government provides to other employees.
According to the Congressional Research Service, members began receiving a $6 per diem in 1789. The rate was eventually raised to $8 and remained there until 1856, when members began to receive annual salaries.
Moran assumes the amendment will not pass, admitting “this is wholly quixotic,” but he may bring it up on the House floor to garner attention.
“Our pay has been frozen for three years and we’re planning on freezing it a fourth year. … A lot of members can’t even afford to live decently in Washington,” he said.
I’m up for the original per diem, and I think America could get on board with that, in lieu of salaries.
Jim Geraghty offers some context on the good Congressman’s finances.
At least this guy’s going out doing what he loves—acting ostentatiously assy, being aggressively out of touch with Americans. If he’d punched someone during this interview, it’d be the perfect coda.