The world’s tiniest violin is playing for Georgia Republican House member Phil Gingrey, who’s very troubled by his inability to make ends meet on $172,000 a year:
Capitol Hill aides, he said “may be 33 years old now and not making a lot of money. But in a few years they can just go to K Street,” the Washington, D.C., vernacular for becoming a lobbyist, “and make 500,000 a year. Meanwhile I’m stuck here making $172,000 a year.”
Back in the real world, of course, there’s nothing stopping Gingrey from retiring and cashing in. Meanwhile last year the median household income in the United States was $51,017 a year. And that’s for a household. Gingrey’s wife has her own earning potential. What’s more, Gingrey is currently eligible for a full pension alongside his Social Security benefits any time he chooses to step down.
There’s a decent case that congressional pay ought to be raised (to reduce incentives to drop out and cash in), but objective economic hardship among members of congress is not part of that case.