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Posted at 07:46 AM ET, 03/29/2011

Republican congressman: We should take a pay cut (User poll)

Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy (R) spoke at a town Hall meeting meeting in March regarding his congressional pay. Asked if he would be willing to take a pay cut, Duffy said he would. The video hilights the disparity many voters find between their own incomes and those received by members of Congress.

During the meeting, a member of the audience asked Duffy what he was paid, and whether Duffy would be willing to take a cut to his own salary. Duffy acknowledged that his congressional salary was $174,000 a year. “I didn’t vote in that, I got there on January 5, I came into it without a play in that,” Duffy continued, going on to describe how his health insurance costs more now that he has been elected to Congress than it did when he was a district attorney.

“But a hundred and seventy-four thousand, that’s three times — that’s three of my family’s — three times what I make,” responded the constituent.

“I didn’t vote — “ started Duffy, only to be inerrupted.

“How did this get so out of line? A hundred and seventy-four thousand dollars a year for a Congressman?”asked the same constituent who earlier had said he was a builder who took a job as a bus driver and his wife was a teacher.

“So, did you move to cut your salary?” asked another constituent.

Duffy responds:

Well our budget — I moved to cut by 5 percent. I did. You know what, I have no problem — let’s have a movement afoot. I walked into this job 6 weeks ago that I worked incredibly hard for. And I can guarantee you or most of you, I guarantee that I have more debt than all of you. With 6 kids, I still pay off my student loans. I still pay my mortgage. I drive a used minivan. If you think I’m living high off the hog, I’ve got one paycheck. So I struggle to meet my bills right now. Would it be easier for me if I get more paychecks? Maybe, but at this point I’m not living high off the hog.
I think we should all take a step back. And go, can everyone do more with less? Absolutely. And the point is, if you want to say, let’s have..let’s have our public employees across the board take a percentage decrease. Because..um if you look at the benefits I have right now, they are consistent with the proposal I think that has been made by uh the Governor. …let’s take a pay decrease..let’s go across the board and all join hands together let’s all take a pay decrease and I’ll join with you. Absolutely.

A constituent off-screen replies, “I wouldn’t say all public employees. I would say let’s look at the elected officials. Wow. That’s a lot of money. How many Congressmen do we have? How many Senators?”

After Duffy says the total tally of 435, the constituent responds, “Wow. And a hundred and seventy-four thousand a crack? Wow, there’s our debt right there.”

After which Duffy responds, “I didn’t vote on that.”

But the amount the government doles out in Congressional pay is miniscule when compared to the national debt. The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold reports that even in light of the protracted budget battle and the resounding call from voters to balance the federal budget, very few members of Congress opt to give back a portion of their congressional pay:

Last fall — as the issue of spending helped Republicans storm back to power in the House — exactly one sitting Republican and one Democrat chose to dock their pay for the cause.
Together, they donated $2,610.39 that quarter.
That’s how much the debt grows every five one-hundredths of a second. The government burned through their gift in three beats of a hummingbird’s wing.

We want to know what you think. Should members of Congress donate part of their paychecks to help balance the budget? And, in the comments, let us know what you think of Duffy’s call for a pay cut for elected officials. Would it make a difference to you?

Update 8:51 a.m.: The YouTube video, originally posted by the Polk County Republicans was removed after the publication of this post.

By  |  07:46 AM ET, 03/29/2011

 
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