Cong. Sean Duffy (R, WI): It’s Hard To Make Ends Meet On $174,000 A Year

This would be what you call chutzpah:

I can guarantee you, or most of you, I guarantee that I have more debt than all of you. With 6 kids, I still pay off my student loans. I still pay my mortgage. I drive a used minivan. If you think I’m living high on the hog, I’ve got one paycheck. So I struggle to meet my bills right now. Would it be easier for me if I get more paychecks? Maybe, but at this point I’m not living high on the hog.

Congressman, you are a fool if you think that resonates with anyone.


FILED UNDER: Congress, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. wr says:

    Right. Because teachers and firefighters and cops don’t struggle on less than a third of what Duffy makes. That why he and his tea-brethren are trying to slash their salaries.

    Oh, and spare me with the “I’ve got lots of kids, I need a big house” whine. When a poor person talks about needing money because he or she has kids, the lovely right-wing answer is always “Well, you shouldn’t have had children until you could afford them.”

    He’s the perfect modern Republican — completely concerned about his own difficulties and absolutely blind to anyone else’s.

  2. jwest says:

    Minimum salary for a congressman should be $500,000/year, plus a bonus of an additional $500,000 if the U.S. budget is balanced within the previous year’s receipts. On top of the salary and bonus, each congressman should receive a housing allowance of approximately $72,000/year, along with a NetJets card for a minimum of 25 hours/year, increased based on the distance of their home district from Washington.

    A pay plan like this would do more to save taxpayers money than anything being proposed today, plus insure a better group of elected officials in the future.

  3. Ernieyeball says:

    BOO HOO HOO! SOB! CRY MY EYES OUT! POOR REPUBLICAN can’t balance his budget at home!
    I’m going to run down to Walgreens right now and get a pack of rubbers to send him!
    Maybe I’ve got some cents off coupons for Wisconsin cheese on the kitchen counter he can use.
    He should get the PETA solution even if he doesn’t have a dog.


  4. Ernieyeball says:

    Apparently the “Free Speech Wing” of the Polk County, WI Republican Party (a volunteer group like the colonial Minutemen) is hard at it trying to suppress (disappear) the video.
    I wonder what they think of Net Neutrality?

  5. MarkedMan says:

    It’s often said that a conservative is a liberal that’s been mugged. But a liberal is a conservative talking about their own problems.

  6. anjin-san says:

    We should probably fire a bunch of teachers so he can get a raise.

  7. An Interested Party says:

    @jwest: My,my, how generous you want to be to members of Congress…I suspect you wouldn’t be as equally generous with other public sector employees…

  8. epistorese says:

    @jwest: Similar justifications were made–saving money in the long run and raising the quality level of the employees–were being made in 2006 for the bonuses and salaries of bankers. How did that work out for you?

  9. Ann says:

    Be sure to “like” the Poor Sean Duffy page on facebook –

  10. Piluca says:

    If that is the pay for every Congressman what Duffy can do? What everyone of you would do? Would you ask your boss to pay you less? You are now fighting the Governor to insure that you get more and more pay and benefits.
    How much Obama gets pay to be in permanent vacation travel the world and play golf and basketball?
    Do you know how much a lawyer in the private sector makes? Duffy is a lawyer and probably could make the same or more in the private sector.
    He payed his way through school by competing as a lumberjack and taking student loans.
    You are envious, and my advice is: If you want to make more money , go to college, make the sacrifice and become a doctor, lawyer, engineer and don’t envy the ones that get educated in order to have a better job.
    Envy is a capital sin!

  11. Moderate Mom says:

    I’m sure it is hard getting by on that amount of money while trying to maintain two households – one in his district and another in D.C., one of the higher cost-of-living cities in the country. Unlike so many of our Congressional and Senate reprsentatives, Mr. Duffy is not independently wealthy. And, unlike someone like John McCain, he doesn’t have a beer heiress wife. Cut the guy a little slack.

  12. john personna says:

    This doesn’t surprise me at all, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was the correct message for “the room.”

    I constantly hear from people who make in the $200K’s, but never grew out “spend what you earn” childhood. They make commitments against cash flow, and then are surprised that a fully committed $200K income can be a trap. Savings? “My home is my savings.”

    If the congressman’s donors are in that boat, he might make them feel its someone else’s fault. Yeah, sure. That could work.

  13. jwest says:

    Epistorese, Interested Party,

    These elected officials are in charge of spending trillions, but are paid a flat, inadequate salary regardless of their performance. Mid-level managers in charge of a few million dollars of budget items make more than that.

    I would like every one of them focused on saving the taxpayer (me) money. By allowing them an income sufficient to live and an incentive package large enough to matter, making hard decisions and working across the aisle become imperatives instead of rhetoric.

    Furthermore, a pay package such as I outlined would open the congress to more qualified people. Unless someone is independently wealthy, winning an election for a House or Senate seat is a financial burden. There are a lot of people who would love to run for office but couldn’t afford the loss of income.

  14. jwest says:

    John Personna,

    My pay recommendations rely heavily on just the “spend what you earn” attitude you describe. I am depending on each and every congressman and senator to piss away their salary and depend on the budget-balance bonus to save them from financial ruin each year.

    By spending this small sum for appropriate salaries, bonuses and perks, the need for naval facilities in Nebraska would be questioned. Social needs that have 26 different programs (only 1 of which is effective) would be consolidated and pared back. Every expenditure would receive scrutiny and every opportunity to increase revenue would be explored.

    Isn’t that what we all want?

  15. john personna says:

    The principle problem with your plan jwest, is that congress critters set their own pay system. Why on earth would they change what is good for them? What are the current rules on migrating political contributions at end of career?


    While the F.E.C. clearly says campaign committee cash can’t be tapped for personal use, there are no such stipulations for certain political action committees, most controversially “leadership PACs” that elected officials can use to support various political causes other than their own.

  16. john personna says:

    (So ask Sean Duffy how much he plans on stuffing in his PAC before leaving politics.)

  17. deathcar2000 says:

    he was elected to hear and address other peoples problems, not to share with group his problems. he was asked how much he makes and how much he would reduce his own pay to help the budget. which is a fair question one public worker (whos pay is being reduced) to ask anothe who pay is not being reduced. his responce highlights the issue the bus driver was bringing up in the first place, “we already have trouble making ends meet and now you’re making it harder” Duffy’s answer was “I dont give a crap about you’re problem. I need a raise”.

    Duffy was completey out of place in regard to his remarks, the chain of command requires him to bitch upward about pay arrangments, not to his constinuents.

    and Jwest, buddy thats sum expert trolling

  18. mantis says:

    Cut the guy a little slack.


  19. jwest says:


    You’re exactly right, which is why this congressional pay bill needs to be coupled with a campaign financing reform bill that would prohibit sitting congressmen and senators from raising or accepting any money whatsoever.

    Challengers would be allowed to raise money without limit from all sources. On a specific date, no additional money could be put in to a campaign and the federal government would match the amount of the highest challenger’s account. This would put the incumbent and challenger on equal footing and eliminate the influence of contributors to sitting members. House and Senate members would not have to spend 6 hours a day fundraising.

  20. Nicole says:

    @Moderate Mom:

    Mr. Duffy sleeps in his office when he’s in swamptown. So no, he doesn’t have the need to maintain a household there.

    What he does have is a debt load way beyond all reason for someone his age. This was entirely his choice, and shows how bad he is at managing money. So no, I’m not going to cut him any slack for not being able to manage his finances on a 6-figure salary. He’s supposed to be some kind of “conservative”, telling poor and working class people they have too much.

  21. Rav says:

    This man makes 6x more than me a year and is crying about how little he makes and how hard life is? Who does he think he is? This man, obviously, is your typical out of touch Republican who does not really know how hard it is for the rest of us.

  22. wm.r.stockman says:

    I just Emailed Rep. Duffy some fatherly advice.(something his father,obviously never did) #1. Credit card bill’s are to be paid in full each month.He has between $15,000.00-$50,000.00 C.C. debt. #2. If you do not have 25% down payment for your home – rent! He has mortgage debt of between $250,000.00-$500,000.00. #3. Second homes(cabins) should only be purchased when the primary home is paid in full.Cabin mortgage $100,000.00-$250,000.00. #4. Limit your family size to what you can afford,six under the age of ten is stretching it for a man of your financial abilities.