One congressman is pushing for a pay hike.
Rep. Jim Moran (D- Virginia) wants Congress to start offering lawmakers a housing stipend. Any lawmaker whose home is further than 50 miles from the Capitol would be eligible for a $25 day stipend when Congress is in session. By Moran’s math, that would total $2,800 per lawmaker who accepts the stipend annually.
Moran’s argument is the high cost of living in D.C. is hurting less affluent people who want to run for Congress. “Don’t we want it to make financial sense for a 30-something physician, district attorney, city council member or small-business owner, who maybe has a new home mortgage, young children, or unpaid student loan debt, to serve in Congress?” he said in a statement. “Federal elected office shouldn’t be limited just to those who are financially independent and do not have to give thought to paying out-of-pocket for living expenses while in D.C.”
But don’t fall for Moran’s argument. Currently, lawmakers receive a whopping $174,000 salary a year. As of 2010, that puts lawmakers in the top 5 percent of earners in the United States. (And don’t forget their spouses may also be pulling in a salary.) There’s a reason when Moran complained last week about lawmakers’ salaries, he seemingly was met with more derision than sympathy.
Sure, D.C. is a pricey area for real estate these days. But lawmakers have options. They can have roommates, pick more affordable neighborhoods – or even sleep on a couch in their offices if they want. Why should taxpayers have to give lawmakers – who can’t even balance the federal budget – even more of their hard-earned money to subsidize those lawmakers’ lifestyles?