Author Topic: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!  (Read 8202 times)


MustachianAccountant

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2014, 11:05:35 AM »
As the article notes, many congressmen need to maintain two homes - one in their home district, but they also need somewhere to live in DC when congress is in session.
Given that DC is one of the most expensive places to live in the country, if you are not independently wealthy (as some congressmen are), maintaining two homes can be a challenge.

Now, if you want to talk about their pension program, well...

MgoSam

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2014, 11:09:07 AM »
No sympathy considering that insider trading is legal I am not going to lose sleep over them. That said, I recognize that the ability to rationalize behavior and "need" are two of the main components of the Fraud Triangle so it might make sense for their salary to be higher.

amha

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2014, 11:14:08 AM »
I'll give them a LITTLE bit of credit for the fact that they have to maintain two residences (one in $$$$ DC) and travel back and forth between them (especially if they're in a middle-of-nowhere district). But even so, this definitely goes into the Wall of Shame and Comedy category. If they're so unhappy with their lack of money, they can quit and immediately triple their salary by becoming a lobbyist (seriously).

GuitarStv

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2014, 11:16:01 AM »
No sympathy considering that insider trading is legal I am not going to lose sleep over them. That said, I recognize that the ability to rationalize behavior and "need" are two of the main components of the Fraud Triangle so it might make sense for their salary to be higher.


I've always mistrusted poorly paid people in charge of a lot of power.  It tends to make bribery and back door dealings much more rampant.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2014, 11:47:36 AM »
Congressmen who aren't independently wealthy are admittedly in kind of an awkward position because they are surrounded by people (lobbyists especially) who at least LOOK so much richer.

DoubleDown

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2014, 12:19:52 PM »
Don't members of Congress get to use official funds (i.e., not their own money) to travel back and forth to their home districts? As I recall, besides travel funds, they get quite a few other additional perks to cover their expenses beyond their salary (franking, congressional gym, cafeteria, campaign contributions, lobbying "gifts", insider trading benefits). And yeah, lifetime pension and healthcare after 5 years of service. So yeah, not much sympathy for "getting by" on $174k, even if it means having to rent a place in DC in addition to maintaining a home in your district. They could rent a really nice apartment right on Capitol Hill for $2000/month for the entire year (even though Congress is in session only about 10 months), and still be left with $150k annually. They should be able to scrape by on that $150k back home.

And of course, once the gig is up, they will make a huge amount of money as lobbyists, seats on corporate boards, talk show hosts, and so on. Almost every member of Congress is independently wealthy (to the tune of millions), many with tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars net worth. There are only a handful that are not already rich, and that's because they're young upstarts who had an unorthodox move to Congress (such as tea partiers that came out of nowhere to win their seat). They'll be rich soon enough once their Congressional gig is up.

MgoSam

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2014, 03:32:48 PM »
Also at the same time it should be noted that these guys and gals aren't forced to be in congress, they work their butts off to get there. There are 535 members of Congress (Senate and House) and each one of them had to face off primary and general elections to get there, with few exceptions are there are people that just fell into that positions. In other words, if you aren't willing to do the job then do the country a favor and step aside and let someone with more passion do it.

Ayanka

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2014, 03:34:13 PM »
Well according to my quick search it would cost you about 2300 USD a month to pay down a rather fancy new 'townhouse' 4 miles from washngton dc (total cost 430 k). The yearly real estate tax would be 3655 USD. So about 31 K a year for a house in DC, no maintenance included. Let's say we take the 2% (your house needs 2% of its value in repairs yearly according to this rule of thumb) you would need another 8600 USD. If we include 5K for a minimal staff you are at 44,6K. This means that our virtual senator still has 130 K to maintain himself, his wife and children. Yes, it might be expensive, but don't tell me you don't get paid enough to live a decent life. (Please note I am not American, I don't have a preference for any political party or politician (besides perhaps a beheaded one).

beltim

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2014, 03:46:33 PM »
Well according to my quick search it would cost you about 2300 USD a month to pay down a rather fancy new 'townhouse' 4 miles from washngton dc (total cost 430 k). The yearly real estate tax would be 3655 USD. So about 31 K a year for a house in DC, no maintenance included. Let's say we take the 2% (your house needs 2% of its value in repairs yearly according to this rule of thumb) you would need another 8600 USD. If we include 5K for a minimal staff you are at 44,6K. This means that our virtual senator still has 130 K to maintain himself, his wife and children. Yes, it might be expensive, but don't tell me you don't get paid enough to live a decent life. (Please note I am not American, I don't have a preference for any political party or politician (besides perhaps a beheaded one).

I'm intrigued.  Where is the fancy new townhouse 4 miles away?

Ayanka

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Mt9982

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2014, 03:52:17 PM »
Well according to my quick search it would cost you about 2300 USD a month to pay down a rather fancy new 'townhouse' 4 miles from washngton dc (total cost 430 k). The yearly real estate tax would be 3655 USD. So about 31 K a year for a house in DC, no maintenance included. Let's say we take the 2% (your house needs 2% of its value in repairs yearly according to this rule of thumb) you would need another 8600 USD. If we include 5K for a minimal staff you are at 44,6K. This means that our virtual senator still has 130 K to maintain himself, his wife and children. Yes, it might be expensive, but don't tell me you don't get paid enough to live a decent life. (Please note I am not American, I don't have a preference for any political party or politician (besides perhaps a beheaded one).

You aren't taking into account taxes and retirement.  You end up with around 70k and 40k is going to housing only in dc.  My husband and I make 300 plus I'm DC and live off of one income/save the other.  I would never be able to own a home in dc if we only made 147.  We could live in an unsafe neighborhood but I'm not interested in that.

You also have to pay for parking (at least 200 a month). I consider that a steal though because we used to pay 800 plus a month when living in New York! 


PindyStache

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2014, 07:42:33 PM »
Less affluent Members of Congress have been known to just sleep in their offices from time to time. I agree it's silly to complain about not being able to live "decently," but think that our political system might work a bit better if Members (Representatives especially) were better compensated. That would be money well spent.

dragoncar

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2014, 08:10:29 PM »
As I recall, besides travel funds, they get quite a few other additional perks to cover their expenses beyond their salary (franking, congressional gym, cafeteria, campaign contributions, lobbying "gifts", insider trading benefits).

Yeah, because postage is so much of my annual budget.

Gin1984

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2014, 08:27:27 PM »
Don't members of Congress get to use official funds (i.e., not their own money) to travel back and forth to their home districts? As I recall, besides travel funds, they get quite a few other additional perks to cover their expenses beyond their salary (franking, congressional gym, cafeteria, campaign contributions, lobbying "gifts", insider trading benefits). And yeah, lifetime pension and healthcare after 5 years of service. So yeah, not much sympathy for "getting by" on $174k, even if it means having to rent a place in DC in addition to maintaining a home in your district. They could rent a really nice apartment right on Capitol Hill for $2000/month for the entire year (even though Congress is in session only about 10 months), and still be left with $150k annually. They should be able to scrape by on that $150k back home.

And of course, once the gig is up, they will make a huge amount of money as lobbyists, seats on corporate boards, talk show hosts, and so on. Almost every member of Congress is independently wealthy (to the tune of millions), many with tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars net worth. There are only a handful that are not already rich, and that's because they're young upstarts who had an unorthodox move to Congress (such as tea partiers that came out of nowhere to win their seat). They'll be rich soon enough once their Congressional gig is up.
I know a bunch of democrats that are not independently wealthy, maybe I just know all of them but that seems unlikely.  Why do you think almost ever member is independently wealthy?

Travis

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #15 on: June 05, 2014, 12:21:59 AM »
http://www.rollcall.com/politics/us-senate-personal-wealth-111th-congress.html

The personal net worth of the Senate (which allegedly doesn't include all of their assets).

http://www.rollcall.com/50richest/the-50-richest-members-of-congress-112th.html

The 50 wealthiest members of Congress.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/capitol-assets/congressional-wealth-risk-matrix/

An interesting breakdown of where Congress gets their wealth.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/01/congress-net-wealth-income-gap_n_1069377.html

Another article about how much Congress is worth.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2014, 12:34:34 AM by Travis »

Argyle

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #16 on: June 05, 2014, 01:00:59 AM »
It would certainly be nice if being rich weren't effectively a prerequisite for being in Congress.

Jack

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #17 on: June 05, 2014, 10:48:01 AM »
As the article notes, many congressmen need to maintain two homes - one in their home district, but they also need somewhere to live in DC when congress is in session.

What? You mean they don't just transform back into bats and hang from the ceiling of the Capitol building?

Ohio Teacher

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #18 on: June 06, 2014, 08:08:52 AM »
It would certainly be nice if being rich weren't effectively a prerequisite for being in Congress.
A buddy of mine won his Congressional primary in May and is running on exactly that sentiment.  He's going to get absolutely waxed by the incumbent Republican, but damned if he doesn't give 'em hell trying.  It's pretty neat knowing that a regular guy is running for a national election.

Gin1984

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #19 on: June 06, 2014, 08:11:39 AM »
http://www.rollcall.com/politics/us-senate-personal-wealth-111th-congress.html

The personal net worth of the Senate (which allegedly doesn't include all of their assets).

http://www.rollcall.com/50richest/the-50-richest-members-of-congress-112th.html

The 50 wealthiest members of Congress.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/capitol-assets/congressional-wealth-risk-matrix/

An interesting breakdown of where Congress gets their wealth.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/01/congress-net-wealth-income-gap_n_1069377.html

Another article about how much Congress is worth.
But that does not show any evidence that MOST members of Congress, not merely the Senate, are wealthy.  This evidence makes me think that saying most members of the Senate are wealthy might be true (I'd need a little more data), though.

dragoncar

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #20 on: June 06, 2014, 10:09:51 AM »
http://www.rollcall.com/politics/us-senate-personal-wealth-111th-congress.html

The personal net worth of the Senate (which allegedly doesn't include all of their assets).

http://www.rollcall.com/50richest/the-50-richest-members-of-congress-112th.html

The 50 wealthiest members of Congress.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/capitol-assets/congressional-wealth-risk-matrix/

An interesting breakdown of where Congress gets their wealth.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/01/congress-net-wealth-income-gap_n_1069377.html

Another article about how much Congress is worth.
But that does not show any evidence that MOST members of Congress, not merely the Senate, are wealthy.  This evidence makes me think that saying most members of the Senate are wealthy might be true (I'd need a little more data), though.

Senate is a much bigger race, so it makes sense that the candidates would need more "assets"

Gin1984

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #21 on: June 06, 2014, 10:13:05 AM »
http://www.rollcall.com/politics/us-senate-personal-wealth-111th-congress.html

The personal net worth of the Senate (which allegedly doesn't include all of their assets).

http://www.rollcall.com/50richest/the-50-richest-members-of-congress-112th.html

The 50 wealthiest members of Congress.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/capitol-assets/congressional-wealth-risk-matrix/

An interesting breakdown of where Congress gets their wealth.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/01/congress-net-wealth-income-gap_n_1069377.html

Another article about how much Congress is worth.
But that does not show any evidence that MOST members of Congress, not merely the Senate, are wealthy.  This evidence makes me think that saying most members of the Senate are wealthy might be true (I'd need a little more data), though.

Senate is a much bigger race, so it makes sense that the candidates would need more "assets"
I don't know about that.  Most politicans I know don't spend much, if any, of their own income.  However, they do tap into their social networks.  Would make more sense that they would need access to a richer network.

dragoncar

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #22 on: June 06, 2014, 11:00:35 AM »
http://www.rollcall.com/politics/us-senate-personal-wealth-111th-congress.html

The personal net worth of the Senate (which allegedly doesn't include all of their assets).

http://www.rollcall.com/50richest/the-50-richest-members-of-congress-112th.html

The 50 wealthiest members of Congress.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/capitol-assets/congressional-wealth-risk-matrix/

An interesting breakdown of where Congress gets their wealth.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/01/congress-net-wealth-income-gap_n_1069377.html

Another article about how much Congress is worth.
But that does not show any evidence that MOST members of Congress, not merely the Senate, are wealthy.  This evidence makes me think that saying most members of the Senate are wealthy might be true (I'd need a little more data), though.

Senate is a much bigger race, so it makes sense that the candidates would need more "assets"
I don't know about that.  Most politicans I know don't spend much, if any, of their own income.  However, they do tap into their social networks.  Would make more sense that they would need access to a richer network.

Assets are more than monetary.  But you are more likely to have the necessary "assets" if you also have monetary assets.  Not a lot of poor people have friends in high places.

Gin1984

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #23 on: June 06, 2014, 12:11:12 PM »
http://www.rollcall.com/politics/us-senate-personal-wealth-111th-congress.html

The personal net worth of the Senate (which allegedly doesn't include all of their assets).

http://www.rollcall.com/50richest/the-50-richest-members-of-congress-112th.html

The 50 wealthiest members of Congress.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/capitol-assets/congressional-wealth-risk-matrix/

An interesting breakdown of where Congress gets their wealth.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/01/congress-net-wealth-income-gap_n_1069377.html

Another article about how much Congress is worth.
But that does not show any evidence that MOST members of Congress, not merely the Senate, are wealthy.  This evidence makes me think that saying most members of the Senate are wealthy might be true (I'd need a little more data), though.

Senate is a much bigger race, so it makes sense that the candidates would need more "assets"
I don't know about that.  Most politicans I know don't spend much, if any, of their own income.  However, they do tap into their social networks.  Would make more sense that they would need access to a richer network.

Assets are more than monetary.  But you are more likely to have the necessary "assets" if you also have monetary assets.  Not a lot of poor people have friends in high places.
True, which is one the reason for republican elected officials to fight against unions.  Unions were where many poorer officials got money.  Then again, this only worked for democrats (with only one exception that I know of), so remove the unions removed a monetary for many democrats.  In fact, the only poorer elected officials had union support.

warfreak2

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #24 on: June 06, 2014, 12:20:21 PM »
True, which is one the reason for republican elected officials to fight against unions.  Unions were where many poorer officials got money.  Then again, this only worked for democrats (with only one exception that I know of), so remove the unions removed a monetary for many democrats.  In fact, the only poorer elected officials had union support.
Of course, if Republicans didn't keep trying so hard to remove power from unions, unions wouldn't donate so much to keep the Republicans out. It's astonishing how much society is governed by circular logic.

dragoncar

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #25 on: June 06, 2014, 12:21:42 PM »

True, which is one the reason for republican elected officials to fight against unions.  Unions were where many poorer officials got money.  Then again, this only worked for democrats (with only one exception that I know of), so remove the unions removed a monetary for many democrats.  In fact, the only poorer elected officials had union support.

I'm not sure I see how removing unions solves this problem.  People are free to associate, even if collective bargaining is illegal.  Seems like there would still be "unions," they would just avoid doing whatever thing the law specifically forbid.

Gin1984

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #26 on: June 06, 2014, 12:36:09 PM »

True, which is one the reason for republican elected officials to fight against unions.  Unions were where many poorer officials got money.  Then again, this only worked for democrats (with only one exception that I know of), so remove the unions removed a monetary for many democrats.  In fact, the only poorer elected officials had union support.

I'm not sure I see how removing unions solves this problem.  People are free to associate, even if collective bargaining is illegal.  Seems like there would still be "unions," they would just avoid doing whatever thing the law specifically forbid.
Dues money funds many a democratic compains.  They are removing the funding by removing the unions.  Also, union jobs pay better which allow for middle class to have the money to donate.

MgoSam

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #27 on: June 06, 2014, 12:48:25 PM »
As the article notes, many congressmen need to maintain two homes - one in their home district, but they also need somewhere to live in DC when congress is in session.

What? You mean they don't just transform back into bats and hang from the ceiling of the Capitol building?

This guy doesn't transform into a bat, but instead sleeps in his office.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Story?id=6587327&page=1

quilter

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Re: It's so hard only making $174k as a member of Congress!
« Reply #28 on: June 06, 2014, 01:42:26 PM »
Don't members of Congress get to use official funds (i.e., not their own money) to travel back and forth to their home districts? As I recall, besides travel funds, they get quite a few other additional perks to cover their expenses beyond their salary (franking, congressional gym, cafeteria, campaign contributions, lobbying "gifts", insider trading benefits). And yeah, lifetime pension and healthcare after 5 years of service.

The lifetime pension after five years statement isn't some great deal. Better than most get but by no means spectacular unless you have many years of public service
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congressional_pension



And another article with further explanation about healthcare and pensions

http://www.voicesfortroops.org/Learn_More/Learn_About_The_Issues/Fact_or_Fiction__Congressional_Benefits.html

Snopes also has lots of articles about these issues
« Last Edit: June 06, 2014, 01:50:12 PM by quilter »