Socialist Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is on board with a plan to give herself and other members of Congress an extra $4,500 a year, despite a reported agreement on Monday to drop the “tone deaf” proposal.
Democrats agreed to strip the $4,500 “cost of living adjustment” from this week’s funding bill in a closed-door meeting on Monday over concerns from members in competitive districts, where most voters earn less than a third of lawmakers’ $174,000 salary, Hot Air reports.
But AOC is barking back, alleging the substantial increase is “not even like a raise” – essentially the same excuse Democrat leaders made when they attempted to sell the plan last week.
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“This is why there is so much pressure to turn to lobbying firms and to cash in on member service after people leave, because of precisely this issue,” the freshman lawmaker said. “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 $15 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 accommodate for changes in our economy,” AOC said.
What she didn’t discuss was whether or not taxpayers believe Congress deserves a raise. Polls over the last two months averaged by Real Clear Politics shows a mere 20 percent of registered voters approve of the job federal lawmakers are doing, and nearly 70 percent disapprove.
Instead of justifying the increase, AOC argued Congress should get a raise to discourage public servants from becoming corrupt political hacks.
“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 back end,” she said.
“That’s my issue. It’s superficial,” the 29-year-old said. “In my opinion, voting against a pay in … 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 will look good on its surface, but it wi … every cost of living adjustment 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 through 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 opponent could use it as a political, exploit it as a political issue,” she said. “But in substance, you mind as well be transparent about a cost of living increase, fight for a cost of living increase for all American workers, peg the 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 loophole and changing your stock holdings. …
“You know, these are real issues.”
AOC’s argument that the self-approved pay boost is not really a raise echoes comments made by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer last week. Hoyer is leading the effort by Democrats increase their own pay because he contends living in Washington D.C. is expensive. The law requires lawmakers to earn more than their employees, and Democrats want to raise their wages, as well, he said.
Hoyer explained to reporters that pay raises are constitutionally prohibited from taking effect until the next Congress, which is why the $4,500 annual increase is actually an “adjustment,” not a raise.
“That was taken to court; the court ruled it was not a pay raise, it was an adjustment on an annual basis for inflation,” the number two Democrat said in defending the “cost of living” increase.
Ironically, Hoyer pointed to the strong economy under President Trump as justification for the “adjustment.”
“I don’t think there’s ever a time when people think it’s very good politically to do,” he said, according to The Washington Examiner. “In this present climate, when the president says we have one of the best economies in the entire history of the world, I don’t know.”
Republicans, meanwhile, have blasted the raises, arguing that lawmakers should accomplish something before rewarding themselves.
“No budget, no raise. Instead of writing a budget or reforming our bankrupt entitlement programs, House Democrats are angling for a pay raise,” Sen. Ben Sasse, of Nebraska, said in a statement. “These jokers couldn’t hold down a summer job at Dairy Queen pulling this kind of crap.”