On Tuesday, FL Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and her colleague VA Rep. Jim Moran openly whined about the impacts of spending cuts on their personal office budgets. Moran fretted that, with the looming sequester cuts, he may have to cut one staffer from his office. Wasserman Schultz upped his ante, however. She, almost literally, suggested that her staff were on the brink of starvation, due to the cuts.
Speaking at a hearing of the House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, Wasserman Schultz worried that prices of meals in House restaurants are getting so high that aides are being “priced out” of a good meal.
At the carry-out cafe in the Cannon Office Building, where Wasserman Schultz has her office, you can get an 8oz bowl of Ham and Bean soup for $2. You can buy gourmet sandwiches and wraps for around $5. Both of these are cheaper than I can get at delis down the street from my house.
Her aides could walk across the street to the Longworth Building, which has a large sit-down cafeteria. Today, it is featuring a roasted stuffed Chicken, with asparagus and mashed potatoes, for around $7. Or, one could opt for a heaping 12oz bowl of Chicken Chili for $3.
There is also the tried and true method enjoyed by millions of workers around the country: a brown-bag lunch.
Wasserman Schultz’s top aide earns around $160k a year. She pays two additional aides around $120k a year. She has five additional aides who earn between $60-100k a year.
Whenever anyone proposes cuts in federal spending, Democrats like Wasserman Schultz warn that the cuts will endanger seniors and children. I used to think the argument was just a cynical political play for votes. After Tuesday’s hearing, however, I’m afraid Wasserman Schultz may actually believe it.
If, in her mind, modest cuts to Members’ personal offices results in well-paid aides struggling to pay for their lunch, then we will have a harder time cutting the budget than we realize.