GOP Congressman: You Think We Make A Lot? Have I Mentioned We’re Getting Shot At?

August 25, 2011 7:33 a.m.

Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL) is not impressed with his $174,000 per year Congressional salary. Or the benefits package that comes with serving his constituents in the House.

“And by the way, did I mention? They’re shooting at us. There is law-enforcement security in this room right now, and why is that?” he told a town hall in his Second Florida Congressional District Wednesday. “If you think this job pays too much, with those kinds of risks and cutting me off from my family business, I’ll just tell you: This job don’t mean that much to me. I had a good life in Panama City.”Southerland is a successful small business owner who beat seven-term incumbent Rep. Allen Boyd (D) to win his first term in Congress in 2010.

According to the Florida Capital News, Southerland seemed frustrated by constituents who think he’s landed a cushy job as a member of Congress, what with his subsidized travel, cheap health care and salary more than three times the median family income in his Tallahassee-area district.

“‘[I]f you took the hours that I work and divided it into my pay,’ the $174,000 salary would not seem so high,” the website quoted Southerland as saying.

His health care plan isn’t as great as some think it is, either, Southerland said.

“The health-insurance plan that I have is no different than any other federal employee’s in the United States government,” he said. “I pay my portion.”

Here’s how the Los Angeles Times described the health care members get back in 2009:

Among the advantages: a choice of 10 healthcare plans that provide access to a national network of doctors, as well as several HMOs that serve each member’s home state. By contrast, 85% of private companies offering health coverage provide their employees one type of plan — take it or leave it.

Lawmakers also get special treatment at Washington’s federal medical facilities and, for a few hundred dollars a month, access to their own pharmacy and doctors, nurses and medical technicians standing by in an office conveniently located between the House and Senate chambers.

As for the pension — as in the plan often criticized on the right as gold-plated — Southerland’s not moved by that either.

“He said he will not be vested in the federal pension plan for about five years and that — although he’s running for a second term — ‘I’m not a lifer’ in Washington,” the website reported.

In the recent past, whining about the Congressional compensation package has gotten other freshman Republicans into trouble. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) was forced to publicly backtrack earlier this year after he complained that he was “struggling” on his $174,000/year.

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