Ocasio-Cortez: “Members of Congress Turn to Insider Trading Because They Are Underpaid”
If Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did not exist, conservatives would have to invent her.
Her remarks on increasing the Congressional salary from $174,000 to $178,900, as a cost of living increase, in their entirety, verbatim:
There’s so much pressure to turn to lobbying firms and to cash in on members’ service after people leave, because of precisely of this issue. So it may be politically convenient and it may make you look good in the short term, for saying ‘oh, we’re not voting for pay increases,’ but we should be fighting for pay increases for every American worker. We should be fighting for a fifteen dollar minimum wage pegged to inflation so that everybody in the United States with a salary, with a wage gets a cost-of-living increase. Members of Congress, retail workers, everybody should get cost-of-living increases to account for the changes in our economy, and then when we don’t do that, it only increases the pressure on members to exploit loopholes like insider trading loopholes to make it on the backend…
That’s my issue, is that it’s superficial. You can vote against pay increases all you want. It’s – in my opinion, voting against a pay – it’s not even like a raise, it’s a cost of living adjustment. So, you can vote against a cost of living adjustment all you want, and it’ll look good on its surface, but it will – every cost of living adjustment that, that gets bypassed, is voting to increase the pressure to exploit loopholes and legal loopholes to kind of lean on other ways to enrich oneself from service. And so my whole side of it is like, it may not be optics, it may not be great optics, it may not, like, look the best in terms of your opponents could use it, exploit it as a political issue. But in substance, you might as well be transparent about a cost of living increase, fight for a cost of living increase for all American workers, peg them to a minimum wage to a cost of living increase, and then on top of it, close all of the loopholes that a lot of people use when it comes to, you know, sitting on a committee and knowing what legislation may be coming down the, the loophole and changing your stock holdings, or letting — you know these are real issues, and I don’t think that voting against a cost of living increase is going to negate the actual issues at hand. In fact, I think it only increases the pressure.
For those wondering whether a salary of only $174,000 forces members of Congress to seek out loopholes and “cash out” as lobbyists, the current base congressional salary puts members in the top 8 percent in the country, assuming their spouse has no income. They get an office budget — currently somewhere in the $1.2 million to $1.38 million range — based upon their distance from their district (for travel expenses) and the number of people it contains. They can travel, at taxpayer expense, on “Codels” — Congressional Delegations — for official business. Best of all:
. . . “members of Congress become eligible to receive a pension at the age of 62 if they have completed a total of 5 years of service. Members who have completed a total of 20 years of service are eligible for a pension at age 50, are at any age after completing a total of 25 years of service. . . . No matter their age when they retire, the amount of the members’ pension is based on their total years of service and the average of their highest three years of salary.”
Reprinted with permission from - National Review - by Jim Geraghty