March 29, 2011- United States Representative Sean Duffy (R-WI) told a constituent that he was struggling to get by on his $174,000 salary while in Congress, but still claimed that all public employees, including himself, take a pay cut. Duffy made the statement at a town hall event in Polk County, Wisconsin. Many video clips from the town hall were posted on the website the Polk County Republicans. This particular clip was subsequently taken down from the website, but not before it was captured by others and obtained by websites like Talking Points Memo. In the video, a constituent talks about how he and his wife will have to take a pay cut if the Budget Repair Bill proposed by Governor Scott Walker (R) passes. He then asks Duffy if the congressman is willing to take a pay cut as well. Duffy proceeds to talk about how much he is struggling with his current salary,
"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."
Duffy also complains about how much he has to pay for health insurance ($600 per month) and retirement now that he is in Congress. Duffy was a former district attorney for the state of Wisconsin, he discusses how great the Wisconsin system was compared to his current federal job. Finally, even given his higher salary which is three times as large as the constituent, Duffy simply groups himself with all public employees and argues that all of them should take a pay cut as Governor Walker did with his Budget Repair Bill.
Needless to say progressives were incredulous. Think Progress notes that Duffy's salary is three times the average state employee in Wisconsin, theoretically giving him much more room with which to sacrifice. In addition, Duffy has a second home which he does own, which could greatly ease the burden of his student loans, and possibly even allow him to buy a new minivan.