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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