Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants a raise.
Her current salary as a member of Congress is $174,00
She is urging Congress to award itself a $4,500 raise, making their salaries $178,500.
Members also get all sort of perks, which, as the desired pay raise would, come from us the taxpayers.
She also complained in a tweet that if lawmakers don’t get a raise, it “makes campaign finance reform *harder.* ” And it “increases pressure on them to keep dark money loopholes open.”
It makes one wonder if AOC understands that campaign money and her salary are two different things.
In any case, it’s all a sign that, just months after arriving at the swamp, Ocasio-Cortez has already forgotten her roots. Even without a raise, she’s pulling down three times what the median household makes in her district.
I & I offers a modest proposal:
So here’s a modest proposal. Tie AOC’s salary, and everyone else’s in Congress, directly to the incomes of the people they represent.
That would mean, rather than give AOC a raise, she would make just $58,331. That’s the median household income in her district, according to a cool Census tool called My Congressional District.
At that pay, AOC would truly represent New York’s 14th Congressional District. Exactly half the households would make more than her, and exactly half would make less.
Better still, if she wanted a raise, she’d have to see to it that her local economy is thriving and people in her district are gainfully employed, thereby pushing up the median income.
If AOC’s pay depended directly on the prosperity of her district, how likely is it that she’d have worked overtime to block Amazon’s HQ2, which would have created thousands of good-paying jobs. Or would be pushing for economy-destroying ideas such as her Green New Deal fantasy, or most of the other policies she wants to enact.
Now imagine that every lawmaker had their pay tied to the people they represent. You can believe there’d be far more pressure for tax cuts, regulatory reform and other pro-growth measures.
Until 1816 Members received a per diem of $6 for serving in Congress.
The Founders had originally considered tying congressional salaries to the price of wheat.
The Compensation Act raised the congressional salary to $1,500. As the official online history of the Senate notes, this was felt a good idea because Members would be less inclined to drag out sessions to rack up more per diems!
But the public wasn't persuaded that such largess was in order.
As a result of the Compensation Act about two-thirds of the House lost their seats
Why such a violent reaction? Perhaps it was the exceptionally cold weather of 1816, or the lingering economic effects of war with Britain. A combative press certainly fanned the flames of disapproval. As Richard Johnson [of Kentucky, who proposed the bill] sadly concluded, the “poor compensation bill excited more discontent than the alien [and] sedition laws, the quasi war with France, the internal taxes of 1798, . . . the late war with Great Britain, the Treaty of Ghent, or any [other] measure of the Government” since 1789.
The Compensation Bill was repealed and Congress got along on $6 a day until 1855, when it did get a salary: $3,000 a year, or, as the official history notes, the salary of “a good government clerk.”
Congress should make a decent wage (though it should also have to live under the laws it makes for the rest of us, including ObamaCare).
Taxpayers, even ones who earn less that their representatives, probably don’t begrudge congressional salaries, if it frees members up to do the public’s business.
But maybe Ocasio-Cortez has triggered a discussion about the rewards and perks of serving in Congress — are our elected officials actually earning what we pay them?
Our robust, young republic had this discussion in the eighteen teens.
While members had to be disappoiinted, the outcry was a sign of the health and vitality of the body politic.
Once more, Ocasio-Cortez has blundered into an issue we just might want to discuss: is Congress working hard enough for those who sent them to Washington?