Congressman Complains About Making $172,000 a Year

David Goldman/AP

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. Never mind that this is more than three times the national average income, or that Gingrey is worth $3 million. Meanwhile, he's running for Senate, where can only expect a $2,000 raise.

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."

The context of Gingrey's comments is a bit complicated, but somehow makes the story even less flattering. By a quirk of partisan posturing and administrative rulings, the biggest victims of Obamacare may be members of Congress and their staffers, who—if some GOP lawmakers have their way—will lose the subsidized health insurance they currently enjoy, which operates like any other employer-provided insurance plan. 

Republicans added an amendment to the Affordable Care Act to force members of Congress and their aides off of the federal government's employee health plan and onto the newly created health insurance exchanges. The exchanges weren't designed for this, and the unusual situation meant lawmakers might lose the subsidies they use to help pay for their premiums. Fortunately for denizens of Capitol Hill, the Office of Personnel Management (sort of the government's human resources department) ruled that the government could continue to provide the subsidy. Case closed?

Not exactly. The ruling prompted conservative groups like FreedomWorks to claim that Congress wasgiving itself an exemption from Obamacare. Gingrey, along with Louisiana Republican David Vitter in the Senate, has led the charge on the "No Special Treatment for Congress Act," which would end the subsidy.

And that brings us to the basement of the Capitol, where, per Strong, some less affluent lawmakers challenged Gingrey on the bill. Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, for instance, said the loss of the subsidy would cost him $12,000. "That's a burden. And it's a burden on our staff, too," he reportedly said.

Gingrey was unsympathetic, and had even less concern for those spoiled staffers, citing their ability to make bank on K Street while he wallows on $172,000. The obvious rejoinder, which Democrats are sure to make, is that they'd be happy to relieve of him the burden of his job and meek salary and send him through the revolving door to K Street.

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.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.