Jason Chaffetz is about to walk away from his public service job as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Before he goes, he is leaving with a parting gift in the form of an idea that fellow House members ought to reject out of hand. Chaffetz thinks Congress should enact a $2,500 monthly housing allowance for its members. It would give members of the House and Senate a little bit of financial cushion to enable them to live like normal human beings.
I don’t think so, young man.
Chaffetz earns $175,000 annually to serve his Utah congressional district constituents. It’s a handsome salary to be sure. However, during his time in office, Chaffetz decided to perform a bit of a publicity stunt by sleeping on a couch in his office, rather than renting an apartment/condo/flat somewhere like many other members of Congress.
As The Hill reports: “A $2,500 monthly allowance would cost taxpayers about $30,000 a year per lawmaker, or roughly $16 million a year for all 535 members.”
I’ll stipulate that $16 million doesn’t measure up when compared to the size of the federal government budget. It’s not even significant compared to the size of the annual budget deficit, let alone the national debt. It’s still 16 million bucks. Boil that down to terms as they relate to me — and perhaps most of you who are reading this post — then we’re talking about some real money.
Again, according to The Hill: (His idea) “would allow the non-millionaires to participate and you would be able to have your spouse join you here,” said Chaffetz, 50, who’s spent 1,500 nights away from his wife and children during his eight-plus years in Congress. “If I wasn’t buying as many airline tickets, it would ultimately be less expensive.”
I wish the Utah Republican well as he embarks on a new career and life, reportedly as a “contributor” to the Fox News Channel. He represents a political party, though, that prides itself on personal responsibility and fiscal prudence.
Tossing potentially another $16 million a year at Congress to create what amounts to a public housing fund for well-compensated lawmakers, though, strays a bit too far from the GOP’s long-standing tradition.