'Real World' congressman's money troubles
March 30th, 2011
11:02 AM ET
12 years ago

'Real World' congressman's money troubles

(CNN) - Even freshman congressmen sometimes get the blues. Republican Rep. Sean Duffy told a constituent, "I struggle to meet my bills right now," at a town hall meeting in Amery, Wisconsin last week.

And when the questioner challenged his claim on the basis that Duffy makes "three times" his own salary, the congressman responded, "I guarantee most of you, I have more debt than all of you. With six 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 off the hog, I've got one paycheck. So I struggle to meet my bills right now."

The exploration of Duffy's personal finances began as an explanation when a constituent asked the first-term congressman how much congressmen and senators make and whether he'd vote to cut his own salary in an effort to reduce the deficit.

Duffy initially danced around the question by recalling his time on the campaign trail in a video posted on ThinkProgress.org, the blog linked to liberal think tank Center for American Progress. He asserted that he went "roughly seven months with six kids and no paycheck" after resigning as the Ashland County district attorney to run for office.

After revealing that congressional members make $174,000 in annual salary, Duffy went on to lambast the health plan offered by the federal government in a diatribe intended to relate to the issues raised his constituent, who'd stated that his wife, a teacher, may face a salary cut if a budget-cutting Wisconsin bill is passed by state government.

"Now, some say I've taken an upgrade, some say I've taken a downgrade as a congressman," Duffy responded. "I now pay $600 a month for my health insurance. I pay far more as a congressman than I did as a D.A. because the federal government doesn't offer nearly as good of a plan as the state of Wisconsin does."

Mike Tate, chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, slammed Duffy's comments in a statement saying, "Poor Hollywood Sean Duffy. He only makes four times the median family income in Wisconsin. This must explain why he is four times out-of-touch with the working families whose health care he would slash, whose Social Security he would erode, whose schools he would close and whose jobs he would ship to China."

But a spokesman for the alum of MTV's reality show "The Real World," Daniel Son, fired back in a released statement.

"Our nation faces a real fiscal crisis and Congressman Duffy is committed to working with his colleagues in the House to face these challenges head on, not score cheap political points," he said.

Filed under: Congress • Sean Duffy
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. lynn

    He has 6 kids and still paying off student loans? Not very prudent to have such a large family with that kind of debt yet. Pay off student loans before making any more kids. Wisconsin voters, only you are to blame for electing someone who doesn't understand family planning.

    March 30, 2011 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  2. David in Seattle

    OMG. You people in Wisconsin can sure pick the winners! No one put the proverbial object to his head and told him to quit his job to run for congress. He earns far more than I and I drive a 97 Subaru over 180,000 miles that burns oil, has no seat belt in the front passenger (no can sit there). I'm paying my kids college loans - because they can't get decent jobs because of the Bush economy. I have house payments, insurance, medicines, some of my kids expenses, and my wife and I are already in our early 60's. Our medical bills have skyrocketed because the insurance our employer offers is now garbage. Get real Congressman.

    March 30, 2011 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  3. Martha in CF

    I am almost positive he doesn't get any bargaining rights.........and he definitely won't be getting any raises anytime soon....
    An example of middle income becoming the poor....

    March 30, 2011 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  4. zin

    U never see dems give up their salaries or lifestyles either eh, but they never thnk twice when asking a repub or taxpayer to give up more of theirs. especially if said taxpayer is forced to contribute to the dem party thru their union becuz every1 knws every single union member votes 100 dem hahaha, can u imagine people being forced to give up part of their pay to repubs? ya thnk katie, diane, and brian might remember what journalism is about? . . . nah

    March 30, 2011 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  5. Kateslate

    Gosh, a whole 600 dollars per month! Good thing he doesn't have a pre-existing condition and it's a good thing the insurance companies have not refused him coverage for a child because one of his kids had this or that malady at birth! THEN he could speak to the issue with true empathy for his "constituents." It is a good thing he has insurance at all! Has he seen the lines out the door when those free clinics come to town?

    March 30, 2011 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  6. Molly Weasley

    I've got news for this clown. Other people in this country also have student loans, a mortgage, children they need to support, etc., and they don't make anywhere near $174,000 a year. So if you want anyone to take you seriously, stop whining and work on legislation that will create jobs, not curtail women's rights, cut health care and cut programs that help the poor and the elderly while giving tax breaks to large corporations.

    Oh, I forgot. You're a Republican. No wonder no one takes you seriously any more.

    March 30, 2011 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  7. Kateslate

    At 174,000 per year, he makes roughly Fourteen thousand Five Hundred PER MONTH. Six hundred a month sounds quite affordable to me with that type of pay scale. 14,500 per month, people!

    March 30, 2011 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  8. Pretzel Logic

    "Congressman Duffy is committed to working with his colleagues in the House to face these challenges head on, not score cheap political points"

    Hmm seems that scoring cheap political points is all this fool has ever tried to do.

    March 30, 2011 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  9. al in memphis

    I pay far more as a congressman than I did as a D.A. because the federal government doesn't offer nearly as good of a plan as the state of Wisconsin does."
    For people who don't have health insurance or are dropped at the time of most need, this statement says alot about the haves. They can complain about whether they drive a 2-door Mercedes versus a 4-door Mercedes, while the rest of us have to catch the bus.

    I'm okay with people working hard and obtaining whatever they dream, but let's not pretend the system isn't funneling money into the pockets of the wealthy while its looking for ways to balance the budget on the backs of the middle class and poor.

    March 30, 2011 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  10. Robert Cloosdoosch

    So he makes $174,000 a year paid for by the taxpayers, and he is not willing to take a oay cut but it is OK to cut teachers making 1/3 what he makes? Isn't that rich? Whose problem is it that he has six kids?? How many Americans have gone seven months without a pay check, and these morons are trying to cut unemployment benefits. Republicans are such hypocrites.

    March 30, 2011 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  11. Phil in KC

    What he says may be true. But it's foolish to complain to your constituents about your pay when they make so much less. Even if the cost of living in DC is far higher than WI.

    March 30, 2011 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |

    I think it was already summed up, poor boy, he only makes $174,000 a year and has to pay $600 a month for health insurance, from his monthly salary of $14,500. REALLY!?! I bet there are people in Wisconsin who only make $14,500 a year! this guy is so typical of republicans, cry the blues, spread lies, cut taxes to the rich (which includes himself now), cut the pay of real working people and take what ever benefits they may have. This guy needs to be a one term congressman. I think the fine people of Wisconsin have seen the light about what the republicans really want to do and will make major changes in the next election.

    March 30, 2011 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. Zack

    Six kids on $170K with a debt load is not pretty. That is very tight and I guarantee you he hits his own saving to pay a few bills some months. Think about braces, saving for college, tutors and all the other stuff that comes with kids and he might as well be making $35K as a sinlge guy.

    March 30, 2011 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  14. Sgt Schultz

    Oh please...how dare you complain when you get a fat check, health benefits and tons of other perks serving in the House. Don't try to pretend you have it rough. You have no clue what it's like to work for a living. BTW – nobody forced you to have 6 kids. If you're allegedly broke, maybe you should have thought about having just 1 or 2 kids. It's not rocket science.

    March 30, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
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