The "I Won't Take a Salary if the Government Shuts Down" Stunt

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 7 2011 10:16 AM

The "I Won't Take a Salary if the Government Shuts Down" Stunt

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV, joins Barbara Boxer and a host of Republicans in promising not to take a salary if there's a shutdown. This is one of those ideas that sounds like gritty seriousness but is actually a massive dodge.

Consider: The salary for members of the House and Senate is $174,000. (This was the salary Rep. Sean Duffy had trouble living on, if you remember one of the more humiliating stories of last week.) The combined pay for every voting member of both Houses is $93.09 million. Let's say a shutdown lasts three weeks, as the last one did. The salary blackout would save $5.37 million. By comparison, the continuing resolutions passed so far have cut $2 billion per week. So this is a distraction from the sort of stuff that would actually make real cuts.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.