Representative Sean Duffy (R-WI) recently stated that he is struggling to pay bills on his income. Data from Opensecrets.org suggest he is the fourth least wealthy member of Congress and has taken on no small amount of debt. I can understand the appeal of having some expensive items and living a bit beyond one’s means. I think most Americans can since the appeal was one of the driving factors of our current economic woes. For most people, a college education and owning a home put them in debt for quite a few years, even if they choose less expensive options. So, unlike some of his critics, I’m not going to berate him for struggling on an income that is around three and a third times more than the median income of his constituents. He makes the point that he has more debt than most of his constituents, something he can afford to take on because of his greater income.
If Duffy is struggling on his income, then teachers must be struggling, too. In Wisconsin, teachers average about $51000 a year and start at about $25000, versus Duffy’s $174000. That makes it more difficult for teachers to have a decent house, a working car, to pay education loans, and to raise their own children. They can’t afford such niceties as two homes; for teachers, it isn’t an option.
I think Duffy should work to promote the general welfare by calling out anyone, even those in his own party, who claim teachers make too much money and are “living high on the hog,” as Duffy says he is not. He should also not attempt to cut the salaries of all federal government employees or suggest states do the same. Many of those employees make less than he does, are struggling more than he is, and are going to be hurt more by pay cuts than he is. If he wants to promote the general welfare, which the government is charged with doing, than he should be defending the salaries of those who make less than a third of what he does. I think he’ll earn a lot of respect if he does that while advocating for a pay cut for all members of Congress and any federal employee making more than he does. Going after everyone’s income, even those who don’t make much, will cause a lot more pain on the lower end of the income spectrum than the upper end.
Also, feel free to replace teachers with firefighters, or police, or just about anyone you’re likely to find working at your local city hall.