When we think of Rep. Phil Gingrey (R), who’s currently running for the U.S. Senate in his home state of Georgia, we tend to think of his far-right social conservatism. It was, for example, Gingrey who expressed support for Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments. More recently, the Republican congressman, while arguing in support of the Defense of Marriage Act, called for children to take classes on traditional gender roles because fathers are “a little bit better” at some things than mothers.
As it turns out, though, Gingrey is capable of offending people while addressing economic issues, too.
Woe is Republican Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia, who bemoaned in a closed-door meeting this morning that he’s “stuck” making a paltry $172,000 a year in Congress…. Capitol Hill aides can go work for a lobby shop and make $500,000, the congressman said, according to National Review’s Jonathan Strong. “Meanwhile I’m stuck here making $172,000 a year.” […]
Some of Gingrey’s fellow lawmakers were “incensed” by the remark, hence the leak to Strong, but the comment probably won’t help the GOP’s problems of being perceived as a party exclusively for the wealthy.
That’s true; it won’t help at all.
The median household income in this country is about $51,000 a year, and in Georgia, it’s a little less. Gingrey makes well over triple that, and reportedly has a net worth of $3 million. The Republican lawmaker is also the beneficiary of taxpayer subsidized health care – benefits he’s eager to deny to others – and has the security that comes with a generous congressional pension.
Here’s a radical thought: maybe he shouldn’t be complaining about his compensation?
What also amazes me is how often this comes up.
A couple of years ago, then-Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) of Montana assured his constituents he can relate to their economic difficulties, arguing he and his family “are struggling like everyone else.” Rehberg had a net worth at the time of about $56 million.
Soon after, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) complained, “In the last election I was labeled a millionaire. Seriously. I ain’t wealthy.” Gosar, in addition to his congressional salary, owns a building worth up to $1 million, a dental practice worth up to $500,000, and an antique store worth up to $500,000.
And then there was Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) who complained about driving “a used minivan” and how much he “struggles” to pay his bills, despite his large congressional salary.
I haven’t seen any polling on this, but I suspect most Americans don’t want to hear well-paid politicians complaining about their finances. When many of those same politicians are fighting tooth and nail to make things tougher on struggling families – cutting food stamps, trying to take away health care benefits, etc. – it only adds insult to injury.