FLASHBACK: Thomas Sowell says congressmen should be paid at least $1 million per year

Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer
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Retiring Democratic Rep. Jim Moran probably won’t find many conservative allies to agree that congressmen are underpaid, but he may have at least one conservative icon on his side: Thomas Sowell.

Moran told Roll Call Thursday that he thinks “the American people should know that the members of Congress are underpaid.”

“I understand that it’s widely felt that they underperform, but the fact is that this is the board of directors for the largest economic entity in the world,” the Virginia Democrat said.

Back in 2005, Sowell argued that every member of Congress should be paid at least one million dollars a year in order to attract politicians better than people like Jim Moran. (READ: A Moranic career: Jim Moran’s violent political life)

“I don’t make a million dollars a year but I think every member of Congress should be paid at least that much,” the legendary conservative Hoover Institution economist wrote in his syndicated column. “It’s not because those turkeys in Washington deserve it. It’s because we deserve a lot better people than we have in Congress.”

“The cost of paying every member of Congress a million dollars a year is absolutely trivial compared to the vast amounts of the taxpayers’ money wasted by cheap politicians doing things to get themselves re-elected,” he continued. “You could pay every member of Congress a million dollars a year for a century for less money than it costs to run the Department of Agriculture for one year.”

Sowell wrote that if you want to lure America’s brightest minds into running for office, you need to pay them accordingly.

“You are not going to get the most highly skilled or intelligent people in the country, people with real-world experience, while offering them one-tenth or less of what such people can earn in the private sector,” he argued. “A professor of economics at a leading university earns more than a member of Congress or a justice of the Supreme Court — and a surgeon earns at least twice as much as an economics professor, though still only about a tenth of what a successful corporate executive can make.”

“How many people in the top layer of their respective professions are going to sacrifice the future of their families — the ability to give their children the best education, the ability to have something to fall back on in case of illness or tragedy, the ability to retire in comfort and with peace of mind — in order to go into politics?” he asked.

Currently, Members of Congress make $174,000 per year.

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