Amy Roberts: Short on cash, long on sarcasm
Red Card Roberts
Park Record columnist
Like millions of other Americans, last week I found myself feeling genuine compassion for members of Congress. Believing we all have an obligation to help those less fortunate, I considered starting a Go Fund Me campaign for Jason Chaffetz. His recent suggestion, that members of Congress should be given a monthly $2,500 housing allowance to offset the cost of living in Washington, D.C., is really a cause I can rally behind.
After all, in addition to free health care for life, a generous government pension, travel perks, sizeable tax breaks and an average two-day work week, the Utah Congressmen’s annual salary of $174,000 is pretty meager. Just look at how much we pay firefighters, police officers, teachers, park rangers and other government employees!
In an interview listing the reasons a housing stipend is needed, the Congressman said, “There are dozens upon dozens of members living in their offices, and I don’t know how healthy that is long-term.”
I couldn’t agree more! No doubt sleeping on a sofa bed is detrimental to one’s health. Far worse than say, sleeping in your car, or on the streets or in deplorable, unsanitary conditions because that’s as far as your paycheck can go. A sofa bed in a comfortable, safe and spacious office is far less healthy than never seeing a doctor because you can’t afford one now that you no longer have insurance coverage.
To help justify Jason’s request, I did some math. An apartment in ,D.C. and a mortgage in his home city of Provo is estimated to cost him $3,100 a month, or about 21 percent of his salary. That type of housing-to-income ratio is unjust, and should be offset with taxpayer dollars. Never mind that nearly half of Americans are now spending 50 percent of their salaries on housing.
My heart bleeds for this man. We are so out of touch with the struggles of Congress. They deserve a handout.
Even though Chaffetz resigned at the end of June to accept a new, higher paying job at Fox News, he noted last week, “I flat out cannot afford a mortgage in Utah, kids in college and a second place here in Washington, D.C..”
I hear ya, bro. As such, I really gave this some thought and came up with a few ways he could have saved (or earned) some extra money and stayed in Congress, as opposed to quitting his term early and costing Utah taxpayers millions to hold a special election. Here they are:
- Ask Donald Trump to provide a Congressional discount at Trump Hotel in D.C.
- The 250 days off he has each year would allow him to get a second job. I hear Uber is hiring.
- His kids could take out student loans like millions of others struggling to pay for college.
- He could set up a dunk tank at the DNC and sit inside it. Charge people $1 per throw. His house would be paid off in 30 minutes.
- Find an apartment within commuting distance of D.C. instead of inside the city, saving about $1,500 a month on rent.
- AirBnB his place in D.C. when not using it.
- Build a dormitory for members of Congress. It should be a bipartisan dorm so something can actually get done. Bathroom is down the hall!
- Stay in a hostel when in D.C. There are some for $42 per night.
- Just don’t buy that new iPhone! Sometimes you have to choose, you know?
- Be a freelance chart designer. He really has a talent for this.
- Allow his wife to work, get roommates, drive a used car and juggle credit cards like the majority of his constituents.
- Stretch his bottle-a-day, hair-gel habit out a bit and save roughly $1,200 a week.
- Write a new book titled: “Sleepless in D.C.: If this cot could talk.”
- Back charge all those paid protestors at his last town hall for mental anguish.
- Just get a better paying job! (OK, he did that.)
While I’ve never been a Jason Chaffetz fan, even I was shocked he made such a stupid suggestion. If he can’t manage his own finances, he has no business managing the country’s. Good riddance.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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