Congressman Jason Chaffetz closes out his career in Congress this Friday Starting next month, he will be working at Fox News. Chaffetz gave an interview to his new employer today in which he once again claimed his decision was about his family.
“There comes a point where you gotta get off the crazy train,” Chaffetz said. “I happen to have a wife I love and kids I adore and two of our three kids are now married and they’re moving away, we’re about to become empty-nesters,” he said, adding, “There comes a point where you’ve got to get more balance in your life.”
Asked if his motivation was money, Chaffetz admitted it was, at least “partly.” “Look, we’re paid a very handsome salary, but our home’s in Utah. I didn’t move to Washington, D.C. I sleep in a cot in my office,” he said.
“As nice as this salary is, I can’t afford to have two places and have a quality of life that I’d like to have at this point.”
Tuesday in an interview with the Hill, Chaffetz suggested that members of Congress should be given a $2,500 housing stipend:
“Washington, D.C., is one of the most expensive places in the world, and I flat-out cannot afford a mortgage in Utah, kids in college and a second place here in Washington, D.C.,” Chaffetz said. “I think a $2,500 housing allowance would be appropriate and a real help to have at least a decent quality of life in Washington if you’re going to expect people to spend hundreds of nights a year here. …
“There are dozens upon dozens of members living in their offices, and I don’t know how healthy that is long term.”
That suggestion was ridiculed last night by a CNN panel who suggested it was a non-starter in the current political environment. While I think the CNN panel is right that this recommendation will go nowhere, Chaffetz is correct that a $174,000 salary, while generous for many areas of the country, is not enough to support two separate homes, especially if one of those homes is in a relatively expensive area like Washington, D.C.
“I just don’t think this should be a rich man’s game,” Chaffetz said. He continued, “If you’re not a multi-millionaire, you’ve got dozens and dozens of us that can’t afford two mortgages, kids in college and other types of things. It’s very expensive in Washington, D.C.”