This week a Congressman complained to his boss about his job. Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL) got on stage at a town hall meeting and delivered this little diatribe about his salary a benefits compared to his job duties, hours, and risks:
And by the way, did I mention? They’re shooting at us. There is law-enforcement security in this room right now, and why is that? If you think this job pays too much, with those kinds of risks and cutting me off from my family business, I’ll just tell you: This job don’t mean that much to me. I had a good life in Panama City…[I]f you took the hours that I work and divided it into my pay,’ the $174,000 salary would not seem so high…The health-insurance plan that I have is no different than any other federal employee’s in the United States government. I pay my portion.”
Yeah. Ok. Let’s break this down. Getting shot at does, in fact, suck. People who risk getting shot at should be compensated for that risk. So a top level enlisted person in the Army deployed to a war zone, making approximately $32,000 per year, should be royally pissed that they’re making 1/5 of Southerland’s salary, especially since no one has actually shot at him.
And the hours. Yeah, lotsa work with that “being in Congress” gig. Let’s say he works 65 hours a week. So his hourly comes to about $51 per hour which is still more that 7 times greater than the federal minimum wage. And if he doesn’t like all the extra hours he has to put in to raise money for his campaign and the National Republican Campaign Committee and the RNC, well, then he should introduce some legislation to revamp campaign finance laws instead of just complaining to his constituents about it. They’re certainly not in a position to fix that little problem.
Being cut off from his family business would be sad for him if he hadn’t gone to a lot of trouble to get a job wherein being cut off from his family business was a statutarily enforced part of the job description. (See also Ethics Reform Act of 1989 that prohibits Members from getting paid for work outside of their elected office.)
As for the health insurance plan being comparable to that every single other federal employee can get, that’s 100% true. He gets to choose from a menu of 10 plans and his employer picks up 85% of the premium, and he pays the other 15%. I had one of the federal plans for a few years and it was great. Low copays, low deductible, big PPO network. No complaints here. And did I mention that over 50 million Americans have no health insurance whatsoever? So, yeah.
But the most egregious thing he said was that the job doesn’t mean that much to him. That’s so far from the standard political talking point that he should be forced to resign from office for saying it. I’d rather have my Member of Congress tweeting his junk or frolicking about in a tiger suit or hiring hookers than expressing apathy for the job. Being in Congress is public service, which requires sacrifice on behalf of others. If you can’t do that gladly, get your ass out of the Capitol and go back to your family business with its sorter hours and better pay and room for selfishness. You don’t deserve to serve the people of Florida’s Second District, Congressman. And people of Florida’s Second District? Kick this guy to the curb next fall and get yourself a Representative who cares about you. You deserve no less.