The National Pulse
congress

New Zealand Politicians Take 20% Pay Cut While U.S. Congress Hands Itself $25M Extra

New Zealand’s politicians are taking a pay cut in solidarity with those suffering the economic ramifications of coronavirus. U.S. politicians could learn something here.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is making ministers in her government and public service chief executives take a 20 percent pay cut for six months due to the impact on their economy.

“This is where we can take action and that is why we have,” the Prime Minister added to her statement.

“We acknowledge New Zealanders who are reliant on wage subsidies, taking a pay cut and losing their jobs as a result of the global pandemic.”

President Trump already gives away his salary. Meanwhile Democrats have focused on funding for the arts, green new deals, diversity programs, funding for Planned Parenthood, and mail-in voting.

The U.S. House of Representatives is now working on a part-time basis yet wants full-time benefits.

A spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee revealed that at this time of belt-tightening, Congress snuck in $25 million of extra funding for itself:

“The funding is to support the House’s capability to telework, including for the purchase of equipment and improvements to the network,” Evan Hollander told us in an email. “It will also provide for reimbursement costs for the staff of the House Child Care Center and covers the costs of the House food service contracts. In addition, it will support the Sergeant-At-Arms on continuity of operations matters.”

Try asking your boss for the same deal.

Many companies reduced or furloughed their employees during the virus affecting many Americans, yet Pelosi chooses not to lead by example. New Zealand’s leaders lead by taking a pay cut.

And let’s not forget what Pelosi said about Congress taking a pay cut in 2013:

“I don’t think we should do it… I think it is necessary for us to have the dignity of the job that we have rewarded.”

Congress has a base salary of $174,000 a year, more than 3x the median household earns.

Not a bad gig considering they work roughly 174 days in a year, equivalent to a thousand dollars a day and a pension plan that guarantees them up to 80 percent of their base salaries. Lifetime congressional workers like Pelosi earn over $230,000 per year.

On top of the pay come the perks of the job. They receive a wide selection of health benefits, some of the best plans in the country (and keep them for life), and allowances of over $994,000 for expenses such as travel, office equipment, office rentals, supplies, and free airport parking in D.C. to name a few.

If American politicians can’t show some solidarity with the public at the most heinous times, why do we expect them to represent us well when the sun is shining?

Vincent Ungro and Corby King

Vincent Ungro and Corby King are 2020 National Pulse Writing Fellows