Southerland struggling to get by on $174k

I guess we’re supposed to feel sorry for some members of Congress?

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.”

First, for members to say “they’re shooting at us” is just cheap. An assassination attempt on Gabrielle Giffords by a madman obviously shocked the nation, but for Southerland to try to piggyback on the shooting as if he’s in danger is pretty offensive stuff.

Second, members of Congress have got to start realizing that complaining about a $174,000 annual salary sounds ridiculous to the vast majority of Americans. Southerland went on to complain about all “the hours” that he works, but this tone-deaf whining hardly makes the complaints any better — he’s a member of Congress who is well compensated for his long hours. He knew that when he sought that job, and instead of whining, Southerland should thank his constituents for the privilege.

If public service is proving to be too taxing, he can retire whenever he pleases.

At the same event, Southerland complained that his health care benefits — which we subsidize — aren’t that great, either. I imagine most of his constituents would love this kind of taxpayer-subsidized health plan.

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.

If Southerland believes his time and talents would be better spent elsewhere, why’d he volunteer for public service?