Gingrey 'Stuck Making $172,000 a Year' Comment Drawing Fire

Image: Gingrey 'Stuck Making $172,000 a Year' Comment Drawing Fire

Thursday, 19 Sep 2013 09:41 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Rep. Phil Gingrey complained Wednesday that he is "stuck" in Congress — earning $172,000 — while his aides can become lobbyists and earn at least a half-million dollars a year, according to the National Review.

"[They] may be 33 years old now and not making a lot of money," the Georgia Republican said during a GOP conference, according to the National Review. "But in few years they can just go to K Street and make $500,000 a year. Meanwhile I'm stuck here making $172,000 a year."

Citing aides who attended the meeting, the newspaper reported that the comments came during a debate among Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, over a Gingrey measure to bar members of Congress and their staffs from getting federal subsidies for their healthcare coverage under Obamacare.

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Some lawmakers at the meeting spoke against the measure, saying they need the subsidies just as much as their lesser-paid aides because of the high cost of medical insurance, according to the report.

Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton, for example, reportedly said he's never been wealthy, and that losing the government subsidy would cost him $12,000 a year.

“That’s a burden," he reportedly said. "And it’s a burden on our staff, too.”

For his part, Gingrey believes the subsidies amount to special treatment for lawmakers and their aides that most Americans won't be entitled to receive unless they are poor and cannot afford insurance at all.

Gingrey later said he didn't remember the comment.

But, he repeated, "It is completely unfair for members of Congress and Hill staffers to get this special treatment that the general public are not getting.”

"I was engaged in a dialogue with some members of our conference who truly believe that Congress should get special treatment. And some also believe that staff members should get special treatment. I happen not to believe that," he added.

Rep. Paul Broun, a fellow Georgia Republican, called Gingrey's comments "disappointing." Both congressmen are running for the Senate seat of Republican Saxby Chambliss, who is retiring.

"While most Americans are struggling to make ends meet and battling higher healthcare costs, it's disappointing that Congressman Gingrey, whose reported net worth exceeds $3 million, complains about being 'stuck here' (in Congress) making $172,000 a year," Broun said in a statement to The Hill.

"Georgians needs a senator who understands what it’s like to balance a budget, not one who is more concerned with their salary than the needs and economic challenges faced by most Georgians."

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