Issues & Insights
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
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AOC Wants a Raise. Here’s a Better Idea.

I&I Editorial

Freshmen Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants Congress to give itself a $4,500 pay raise next year. That would boost her salary to $178,500. And that’s not counting the many perks members of Congress get, all courtesy of taxpayers.

But even that isn’t enough for the self-described socialist. AOC scoffed that a 2.5% bump in pay was “not even like a raise.” Before that, she grumbled that her income was merely a “living wage.”

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.

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.

To be sure, tying congressional pay to specific districts could create problems of its own. One of them would be wide differences in pay, even among one state’s delegation.

For example, the median income in Virginia’s 10th District — which encompasses rich suburbs of D.C. — tops $120,000. But the median income in the state’s 9th District — which covers the mostly rural southwestern part of the state — is just $43,987.

But so what? Why should representatives from poor rural districts live like kings? What incentive do they have to make sure their local economies are thriving, poverty is being eliminated, and jobs are plentiful? It would also be a constant reminder of the income disparity that Democratic lawmakers are always whining about.

Of course, the median income is just one measure that could be used. Pay could be based on a statewide median income, for example, or it could include measures of unemployment and the number of people in poverty, or it could be based on some other agreed-upon measure of prosperity and wellbeing.

And no doubt lawmakers would try to game the system by pouring checks down on households or giving their constituents all high-paying government jobs to artificially boost median incomes. So there’d have to be safeguards against such schemes.

The point is, it’s massively unfair for people such as AOC — no, especially for self-described socialists like AOC — to make $174,000, when 90% of the households in her district make less than that.

It’s time for the public to rise up and demand that no elected official in Congress should receive a salary higher than the median income of the people he or she represents.

Perhaps it’s time for a new amendment to the Constitution.

— Written by John Merline

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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • Welcome to the real world, AOC. I think 2.5% tops any raise I or anyone reporting to me received for the last 10 years. Of course, I was in the private sector. She’s on the public sector gravy train.

    Just another example of how out of touch the political elite are with us, the great unwashed.

  • I’d like to comment, but I think all of the swear words this woman deserves would get filtered out.

  • In all fairness, being in Congress requires you to maintain two households, one in your district and one in hyper-expensive DC. I think that’s a legitimate problem. Still, $175k seems like it should be enough, especially with added office space subsidies, etc.

    • Surely one of those homes just needs to be a small studio or something along those lines?

    • It did not take AOC long to develop expensive tastes. You should see the place AOC has in DC. The luxury high rise is in the trendy upscale Navy Yard neighborhood and boasts such amenities as: two privae massage rooms with state of the art hydrotherapy beds, his and her saunas, indoor lap pool, rooftop infinity pool, Peloton cycling studio, etc.

      In addition to her swank new digs, AOC has somehow also found the wherewithal to jet about the country to swan around with Hollywood celebrities and Hampton bluebloods.

      Not bad for a poor socialist working stiff who was slinging drinks in a bar less than a year ago.

    • And a gold-plated benefit package. No Obamacare for them. Plus, not to be cynical, but the opportunities to enrich yourself and your cronies are unparalleled. Why do you think so many leave the Congress much wealthier than they came, much wealthier than can be explained by their salary? If their compensation is really being consumed by higher costs of living, it sure doesn’t appear that way.

      • If it were not known regarding their “one hand washes the other” approach to dealings, it would be near unfathomable regarding their unusually quick ability to accumulate of wealth. Not saying they are all corrupt, possibly only most of them.

  • There’s a piece in Vanity Fair where AOC’s Socialist peeps grouse that, after 6-months (!), she’s forgotten who brung her to the dance — the prog network that took her from barista to US Representative. She’s not endorsing progressive 2020 primary challengers to centrist Dem seats, she’s stopped (post-GND) proposing edgy progressive legislation, she’s ceased challenging the beltway status quo.

    Columnist Merline’s capital idea (Congressional salaries indexed to media incomes in their respective districts) would, were AOC to propose this as legislation, get her her progressive mojo back, PDQ! Go, gurl!

  • 535 elected representatives have proven, time and again, they are either totally incompetent, fully corrupted or enthusiastically complicit in the agenda to destroy this country. My recommendation would be to pay the non-profit Judicial Watch the sum total the 535 elected grifters receive since JW has accomplished more in 6 months than the elected reps have in over 6 years.

  • Seriously??? I think that you get what you pay for. Tieing salary to tie representative’s district would seriously hamper ‘poor representatives’ to represent their constituents nearly as well as ‘rich representatives’. You would also get much less qualified people representing poor districts. Qualified people should expect to be paid for their knowledge so if you want good government, I would suggest giving all reps senior management pay;b they are, after all, senior management of the government.

  • She not worth 7.25 per hour minimum wage do some work first .better yet give people on disability a fair raise

  • Here’s another idea: The Dems find somebody with half a brain and who’s not a joke to run against AOC in the primary next year.

  • This is not a bad idea. Almost as good as term limits (2 terms) with no lifetime pension and no perks.

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