Congressman Who Voted Against Minimum Wage Hike Complains He Hasn’t Gotten a Raise Since 2008

Congressman Who Voted Against Minimum Wage Hike Complains He Hasn’t Gotten a Raise Since 2008

This is pure hypocrisy. A $174,000 salary is just not enough for some people — namely Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.).

Terry has the gall to oppose increasing the minimum wage while complaining that his salary hasn't risen since a pay freeze in 2008, according to ThinkProgress. He has refused to sign a measure proposed by State Sen. Brad Ashford on Monday to cut Congress' pay by 10%. 

In 2013, Ashford voted against a measure supported by President Obama to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10. His calls to bring down Terry's pay have struck a nerve with Terry: "I give at least that amount [10%] to charities already, so I don't have to do a campaign trick like that," Terry told KMTV. "I'm already giving back to the community from my salary."

Keep in mind, this is the same guy who said he couldn't "handle" losing his paycheck during the 2012 government shutdown he supported, because he had a "nice house" and a "kid in college."

The background: Terry can't stomach the thought of losing $17,400 from his paycheck. After all, that would be even more than the $15,080 a full-time minimum wage worker makes in Nebraska. So it makes sense that Terry thinks the 5.1% of Nebraskan employees making $7.25 an hour should tighten their belts like he has, considering neither has gotten a pay raise since 2009.

The reality: Low-wage workers in 2014 are finding it harder to escape poverty. The Center for Economic and Policy Research estimates that more than half of those who earn $9 an hour or under are over the age of 25. Increasing numbers of low-wage employees have high school or college educations, while Pew research demonstrates that it's nearly impossible to work your way above the federal poverty line while making the minimum wage:


Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 would give direct pay increases to an estimated 30 million workers, around 28% of whom have children. It's supported by more than 600 economists and would lift an estimated 4.6 million out of poverty. But House Republicans like Terry don't seem to understand what actual financial difficulties look like, so for now it's staying where it is.

By the way, sometimes minimum wage workers are actually fired for complaining about their pay.

Times are probably tough for Terry. But if his current salary isn't competitive enough to keep him around, plenty people who would jump at the chance to make $174,000 to sit around complaining about pay cuts — and Ashford seems willing to do it without the kvetching for even less. Seeing as Terry looks pretty vulnerable this year, he should be glad he'll probably have something better to fall back on than the minimum wage.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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