On Friday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced she had decided to raise the entry-level salaries in her office to $52,000. “We pinch pennies elsewhere, but it’s worth every dime to pay a living wage,” she said. In a later tweet, she added: “Low pay [is] a big reason why money in politics is a problem—you can make a lot more money becoming a lobbyist & setting up a relationship w/ one, since the actual job doesn’t pay enough.”
As Roll Call reported when Ocasio-Cortez, who also made headlines when she announced she would pay all interns $15 an hour, made the announcement, the congresswoman has said she would find the room in the budget in part by capping salaries in her office at $80,000—a figure far lower than the $154,000 average pay for chief of staff positions.
Some have praised the move as necessary to make more diverse hires in Congress, but on Sunday on Fox & Friends—where hosts also admitted they did not really care how Ocasio-Cortez pays her staff—that decision was pointed to as “socialism and communism on display.”
“She is going to redistribute the money appropriated to her congressional office to make sure that the entry-level staffers get a fair share of money,” co-host Griff Jenkins said.
“Your entry-level intern is making 52 grand, while your chief of staff―who has a very important role in a congressional office―now is capped at 80, as opposed to the actual market rate on Capitol Hill which is closer to $150,000,” co-host Pete Hegseth said. “So everyone’s between 52 and 80. It’s actually socialism and communism on display.”
Hegseth then called for Ocasio-Cortez to take things a step further. “She makes $174,000 as a congresswoman,” he said. “She should probably redistribute some of that. Will you share some of that money, Ms. Congresswoman, with the rest of your staff who is not making as much as you?”
Jenkins concluded the discussion: “It’s not like she earned the money, she just redistributed it.”