The Twitterverse was abuzz this morning over the news that Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) is advocating for a Congressional pay raise, saying that his salary of $174,000 is not enough to "live comfortably in the nation's capital."
I have met Rep. Moran several times and agree with him on a multitude of issues that are extremely important to me, which makes his very vocal opinion on this issue particularly disappointing. This proposal is absolutely asinine, appalling and a pretty substantial slap in the face to the vast majority of us who live in the nation's capital and who make a fraction of what members of Congress do.
Congress has been in session only 41 days this year and have only another 75 scheduled for the remainder of 2014. There are 271 days left in 2014. Most people don't have the luxury of working a quarter of the year and then getting a six-figure salary. The Washington, D.C. metro area is the wealthiest in the country, yet even then, households still make less than half of what members of Congress make. The average American family makes less than a third. This, the 113th Congress, has been the least productive in modern history, and even though they haven't earned a penny of their salaries, they still get paid. Shut down the government? They still collect their paychecks. Waste time voting on a Supreme Court upheld law? Doesn't matter, they can waste all the time they want and still get paid. If only the rest of us had such cushy jobs that rewarded us for not doing a damn thing.
Not only does this show just how grossly out of touch our representatives are, but it shows how significantly skewed their priorities are. Rep. Paul Ryan's budget would make drastic cuts to food stamps and Medicaid. As someone who has taken part in the SNAP Challenge I can't even imagine how those on SNAP could endure any more cuts to the program. Yet instead of concerning himself with how to help keep programs that help our most vulnerable communities funded, Rep. Moran is worrying about how to continue on with his fancy lifestyle.
Rep. Moran announced he will retire at the end of this term a few months ago. One might think in these last few months in office he'd work tirelessly to cement his legacy. Whether that be continue fighting for equality or working to expand background checks or more environmental protections or whatever, there are substantive things this country needs that he could be working towards.
But no. He wants, in his final months, to introduce legislation to give himself and all of his rich buddies a raise -- cementing his legacy as one of those jaded fat cats on the Hill.
It is people like Rep. Moran (people who don't actually live in the District of Columbia [Rep. Moran technically lives in the suburbs of Virginia]) who give D.C. and its actual residents a bad name. Many of these residents (including myself) make less than the average D.C. wage. Some of these very people likely work for Rep. Moran. Nowhere have I seen any indication that he plans to give his staffers any kind of raise.
As one might expect it appears Moran's intentions are to pad his personal wealth for when he enters into retirement. It is no secret that he has had financial trouble over his career in public service and recently his wealth has plummeted. Between 2004-12 he has seen a net decrease of 97 percent after a high point of an estimated $12.7 million in 2007.
While no one should begrudge others success and the ability to become wealthy, those of us who enter into the world of public service should do so with the intentions of making the world a better place for those we serve, not to pad our own pockets.
It is almost disappointing Moran announced his retirement in January (which, let's be honest, his impending retirement and the timing of this legislation is, of course, no coincidence). I may not be one of his constituents, but it would be some fantastic poetic justice to see the people who pay his salary, the people whose salaries are significantly less than his, show him the power of democracy and hand him his pink slip.