Going From Severely to Woefully Underpaid is No Bonus

Another dig at the WSJ I am afraid. This time, it took TWO writers to muck up a simple story, and they work for the paper. You see, Congresspeople are giving people bonuses. Bonuses! How could anyone get a bonus in this economy? Clearly, everyone has done a terrible job. You there - in the Congressman's back office in charge of healthcare issues (that have nothing to do with the economic downturn), who worked 9am-9pm, 6.4 days a week, for the past year with 2 recesses that you spent with me in the district - you can't have a $3,000 bonus, bringing your salary to $33,000. That's $33K in a major metropolitan area, where you have to eat out more than most because you barely see your apartment.

The article never mentions how little congressional staffers actually make. There is a pithy quote from Pelosi's aide placed, it seemed to me, in ironic counterpoint, noting that these bonuses help hard-working aides who are underpaid. No numbers. Instead, there is a note that out of 2,000 staffers, 3 got $14,000. So, less than one percent got a "big" bonus? Hm. I just can't get angry about that. Sounds quite responsible really. Oh, and could you mention for the folks out there that most of these people have college debt, many including graduate degree debt?

I sound ticked don't I? I know a lot of staffers on both sides of Congress. Whatever you may think of their members, these aides think less. They are nose to the grindstone policy wonks who deal directly with constituents daily to bring the local concerns to Washington. They aren't doing it for the money, that's for sure. Even the power isn't enough to keep you going. It has to a sense of service. Crapping on these people because their bosses can provide a little extra to show their gratitude - and I do mean a little - that's low.


elanit said...

If this were Facebook, I would click on the little "Like" button to give the thumbs up to your thoughts.

David said...

I understand the sentiment to some extent - the difference is below.

However, this morning, the Washington Post had a story about LegiStorm, which is posting the salary information for the hill people, and all of the callouts in that story were vastly higher than what you're citing.

As an example Rep. Frank has 23 staffers such that the lowest full-time staffer appears to make $25K, while the highest makes $163K, and the average is $55K (figures extrapolated from Q408).

The challenge I have is this: if I, as a private-sector employee, work hard and do well, I would be likely to get a bonus. However, if the company for which I work is having hard times, then I won't, no matter how hard I work. Given that, shouldn't public-sector employees be treated the same way?

LuvNmuzic said...

I think people try to draw a parallel between private and public sector for things like bonuses, but it really is very difficult to accurately do that. I'm sympathetic to Hill staffers, having once been one. There are NO perks anymore-- not that there should be, but you can't accept anything. Constituents are at best exhausting, at worst abusive and degrading. You work very intense 12+ hour days under the constant pressure of being on the record for every work product you churn out. Your salary is not a comfortable living, and really it only pays for your storage unit... I mean your apartment and other basic necessities. Each office is granted an administrative budget it can use as it wants to-- and rewarding hard working staffers for being conscientious, ethical, martyr-like and devoted is a good use of funds. I would argue a more intelligent political move would be to give everyone raises, rather than the bonus... but that's a hiccup.