TIME Economics

The Wealthy and Powerful Discover Inequality

President Obama Hosts Summit On Working Families
Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein participates in a panel discussion on 'Talent Attraction and Retention' during the White House Summit On Working Families at the Omni Shoreham hotel June 23, 2014 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

Even the rich are admitting that inequality is bad for business

As the Gilded Age has been peaking, a number of the rich and their foundations have been helping the hungry, the sick, the homeless, the battered, the less educated and veterans in need of opportunity. However, aside from the palliative approach, “the system,” as President Franklin D. Roosevelt liked to call it, until now, has had no serious proactive strategy to address the inequality in incomes and wealth.

The dominant social message has been that for most of the population – the huge middle class – one can work hard and raise oneself up through education, solid contributions, good performance and, ultimately, economic rewards that will be the fruit of these virtues and labor. But there are signs everywhere that this is no longer the case. Wages are flat, returns to education are down, and solid-paying jobs with benefits are the old, not the new, norm. As recent data from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows, employee compensation – wages and benefits – comprise an ever-smaller piece of the economic pie, while wealthy Americans collect significantly more in capital income – interest and dividend payments. As Brookings Institution labor economist Gary Burtless put it, “everything’s coming up roses for people who own a chunk of American capital.” The structure of the economy rewards those who own capital and derive income from that capital. Work hours alone simply do not cut it. Automation and robotization will only accelerate the process.

Who has stepped forward to analyze the problem and start a national conversation about the solution? Many have, but one recent surprising group of trenchant commentators this summer is the wealthy and powerful themselves. In defining the problem of inequality in early June, Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein told CBS This Morning that inequality is “destabilizing” and “responsible for the divisions in the country. The divisions could get wider. If you can’t legislate, you can’t deal with problems. If you can’t deal with problems, you can’t drive growth and you can’t drive the success of the country. It’s a very big issue and something that has to be dealt with.” In mid-July, Bill Gross, a billionaire in Southern California and the founder of PIMCO Asset Management, headlined a USA Today op-ed with the claim that “Economic inequality threatens capitalism.” In the piece, Gross goes on to argue that “income equality is good for business” – underscoring this group of observers’ concern that inequality threatens economic growth – and says that solutions to inequality should guide a Republican platform. In the July issue of Politico, billionaire Nick Hanauer wrote a “memo” to his “fellow zillionaires.” As the first nonfamily investor in Amazon.com and founder of an Internet company that sold to Microsoft to for $6.4 billion, Hanauer represents the high technology side of “the system.” His message would be downright scary if it were not written by a billionaire himself. In his piece, “The Pitchforks Are Coming…For Us Plutocrats,” he wrote, “Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and a more feudal society…. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality.” In mid-July, Walmart President and CEO Bill Simon commented to Reuters and CNBC that its lowered sales were because the “middle and down are still pretty challenged.” Even philanthropy magazines are filled with worry about the inequality conundrum. Alms for the poor and vulnerable just won’t cut it anymore.

This group has not been shy about discussing possible solutions. Bill Gross called attention to Henry Ford’s “broad-based” solution to expand incomes early in the last century – which echo the generous cash profit-sharing checks on top of wages, which every Ford worker still enjoys today – and suggested large increases in the minimum wage. While not offering specifics, Hanauer suggests our policies must “change dramatically,” and he admits the performance/reward gap of the new economy by saying that “I’m not the smartest guy you’ve ever met, or the hardest-working.” Blankfein’s solution is to “grow the pie” and “distribute it in a proper way.” He lays out this criterion for a solution: “If you grow the pie and too few people enjoy the benefits of it and the fruit, then you have an unstable society.”

The insights from the top do not let up, and their analyses are wide-ranging and sharp. However, “the system” has not been systematic about exploring solutions. If one trolls the websites of the foundations of the rich and powerful, there is a decided lack of willingness to look at systematic economic solutions. Occasional ideas should not be mistaken for careful and deliberate problem-solving on this complex problem.

We will never solve the problem of inequality unless we develop mechanisms for the middle class to share in the ownership and profits – the capital – of the economy. The reason is that the private ownership of capital assets, such as businesses, stocks and bonds, are highly concentrated. Moreover, in 2011 almost 90% of all capital gains and all capital income, such as dividends and interest, went to the top 20% of the population.

One possible avenue is to apply to the middle class at large the approaches that the rich and powerful apply to themselves. Most of their income is from having a share of ownership and profits in businesses. In order to give middle class workers access to these types of capital income, we must dramatically expand the tax incentives for businesses of every size to offer shares of ownership to all of their employees. This ownership can come in the form of grants of restricted stock, stock options, ESOPS (Employee Stock Ownership Plans) and profit sharing, a la Henry Ford. There is a long history of citizen shares in American workplaces since the late 1700s, with many worthy examples among the Fortune 500, high tech firms and the thousands of privately held corporations offering generous ESOPs.

Shares of profits and equity at the workplace will help, but will not be sufficient because much of the population works in the public sector – in the military, government or non-profits. Big ideas are necessary. For soldiers and teachers and others, we need to explore how to apply the lessons of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation to the rest of America. The Corporation receives oil and mineral rental, royalty and revenue-sharing payments from corporations allowed to use Alaska’s resources. This capital is invested in a diversified portfolio so that every Alaskan citizen can receive an annual dividend check.

To replicate this arrangement here, assets and leases of the Federal government and states should be made available to private corporations – similar to the Alaskan initiative – in order to pay citizen dividends nationwide. The wind and solar energy fields popping up around the nation should be largely owned by these corporations, as should the wireless spectrum controlled by the Federal Communications Commission and other future technologies receiving tax subsidies funded by citizens at large. States and cities should stop the corporate welfare of huge tax abatements and receive ownership shares to be deposited in citizen share corporations. For example, the DeBlasio Administration should do a top to bottom review of New York City’s tax abatements and monetize them as equity shares for the middle class. These corporations can be licensed by the Treasury and borrow funds to invest in the new technologies and robots of the future. As a sign of hope for the younger generation, we should revisit the idea of Baby Bonds, where an account is set up for each newborn using the same low interest loans that the Treasury and the Federal Reserve recently used to bail out Wall Street and revive its capital ownership. These Baby Bond funds would also be privately managed to be invested in assets that pay regular capital income. Relatives and the rich could make deposits to the accounts, the children could learn how to track them in elementary school, and the dividend income could supplement wages in adult life.

If citizens do not privately own more of the economy, the flat wages of the middle class will never dig us out of inequality. It is time for the rich and powerful to encourage both political parties to set up a national bipartisan commission to explore these and other useful ideas. Charity and philanthropy will never be enough.

Joseph Blasi’s latest book, The Citizen’s Share: Reducing Inequality in the Twenty First Century (written with Richard B. Freeman and Douglas L. Kruse) tells the story of the American history of the shares in business and the economy. Blasi is the J. Robert Beyster Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University.

TIME politics

Watch John McCain Dance The Robot Like No Politician Has Danced The Robot Before

ABC, we have your next cast members for Dancing with the Stars.

If there was ever a case for Dancing With the Stars: Politicians Special, it was Saturday night’s Apollo in the Hamptons benefit, where showstoppers John McCain and Chris Christie could have danced all night. And if you’re watching the above video of McCain doing the robot with an in-awe Jamie Foxx, you’ll wish they had.

While the Senator pulled off stellar Mr. Roboto moves, getting most literally down in front of high rollers ranging from Bon Jovi to Harvey Weinstein to AmEx CEO Ken Chenault.

Christie, meanwhile, went a little more Electric Slide/Chicken Dance fusion.

“Christie really held his own,” Jack Nicholson told the Post. “I told him, as he walked back to his seat, ‘Governor, you can’t let New Jersey down.'”

Apparently Apollo in the Hamptons is the event of the season. Last year, Foxx reportedly got Colin Powell to sing “Blurred Lines.” While that magical moment wasn’t caught on video, at least we have the former Secretary of State’s DWTS audition tape to make up for it:

TIME politics

Chris Christie Shows Off His World-Famous Dance Moves Onstage With Jamie Foxx

The New York Post called it "rambunctious gyrating"

At a benefit in the Hamptons this weekend, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie busted out his incredible dance moves (which he recently showed off on The Tonight Show), much to the delight of the crowd.

“I know you’ve got a dance in you, Chris Christie,” said Jamie Foxx, who urged the politician to join him onstage, according to the New York Post. He promptly made his way up to the stage for what the Post aptly described as “rambunctious gyrating.”

Sadly, there’s no audio, so we recommend turning on some Donna Summer to play in the background. Here, hit play on this and then return to the Christie video:

 

TIME Immigration

A Mayor’s Advice on the Unaccompanied-Minor Crisis

U.S. Agents Take Undocumented Immigrants Into Custody Near Tex-Mex Border
An undocumented immigrant awaits transportation to a processing center after being detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents some 60 miles north of the U.S. Mexico border near Falfurrias, Texas on July 23, 2014. John Moore—Getty Images

Education is a basic need

My town, Riverdale Park, Maryland, has grappled with unaccompanied minors arriving from Central America for years. I’ve been the mayor for the last nine, and for even longer, I’ve been an educator in our local school system with a very large immigrant population. Riverdale Park is one-third first-generation immigrant, mostly from Latin America.

The first step toward grappling with new arrivals is to recognize them as neighbors—both as residents and from countries that are now neighbors as well. I know this sounds simple, but until it becomes a reality no real improvement is likely. Neighbors work together and help each other cope with common problems.

As I came to accept the Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Mexican ex-patriots living around me as neighbors, I discovered new partners in addressing the many problems that we, as neighbors, all needed addressing. An influx of de-facto orphans is no different; the only way to constructively deal with the problem will mean real engagement with the broader community of immigrants—the families or sympathetic members of the same ethnic group must be part of the solution.

Modern technology and rapid transportation obliterate distance, and create what I call the “worm hole” effect. Even relatively poor immigrants in my town are able to maintain close and regularly reinforced connections to their lands of origin. Riverdale Park has a worm hole leading to the Mexican state of Puebla, El Salvador and Guatemala. If I were to ignore that tunnel when addressing the issues of my community, I would be doomed to much needless frustration and much avoidable difficulty.

Because of the “worm hole” I know my community will get some of the influx of minors above and beyond the flow that we always see. The kids with family here will naturally end up here for a time anyway, and sympathy for the orphaned will mean the children of distant relatives or friends from the old country are going to naturally draw them here.

As the kids arrive in my region, Riverdale Park is working to ease the situation and cooperate with Governor Martin O’Malley’s placement priority for them—first with family, second with foster care, and lastly in congregated housing. Area churches are always part of the first line of assistance for those in need and I’m lucky to have great partners in helping with basics like clothing, food, hygiene and school supplies. We also are blessed to have several great organizations that focus their efforts on immigrant kids and their specific needs for things like English acquisition and constructive after-school activities. I also put my neighbors in the immigrant community on alert and seek regular updates on how this looks from the street level–for example finding and working with the kids who got through on their own and aren’t identified by the system.

For the young immigrants, whether they are here only a short time or permanently, a basic concern is education. Regardless of whether kids’ destinies are in the United States or a Central American country they need an education to be a productive member of society. In the schools in my area, we have increasingly adapted to teaching students who are in the process of learning English, while speaking another language at home. Systems have traditionally viewed this as a problem, but we see being truly bilingual as an asset and mark of a quality education. Clearly though local jurisdictions need the state and federal governments to insure that no local jurisdiction is overwhelmed beyond their ability to provide classroom space and a reasonable teacher-to-student ratio.

What about the other end of the worm hole? How can we help stem the flow of people from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras northward? Talk of root causes and development in Central America almost always misses discussing their greatest need of assistance: creating a strong universal education system. Every official I’ve ever spoken to in Guatemala has emphasized this need. Central American education is poor by every measure, and this state virtually guarantees continued poverty and lack of opportunities for many in these countries. Border control, legal reform (here and there!), drug interdiction, agricultural improvements and a host of other topics clearly are part of the whole picture; however, without an educated population, the countries of Central America will remain locked in a cycle of poverty, desperation and flight to the United States.

Vernon Archer is five term Mayor of the Town of Riverdale Park, Maryland, and teaches social studies, history and English as a second language at William Wirt Middle School in Prince George’s County Public Schools.

TIME politics

Kevin Spacey Prank Calls Hillary Clinton in House of Cards Parody

To talk about the former president's 68th birthday present

In this video released by The Clinton Foundation, House of Cards star actor Kevin Spacey calls up former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to see if he can figure out what she is getting her husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, for his birthday.

He suggests an elephant because Hillary and their daughter Chelsea have been calling for increased efforts to curb elephant poaching for ivory in Africa.

“This is a very personal decision I will make when I’m ready,” she responds, which is what she says when she is asked whether she will run for the White House.

Then Spacey launches into a discussion of names for Chelsea’s baby like Frank, a reference to Frank Underwood, the conniving South Carolina Democrat he plays in the series, and Claire, his wife on the show who is played by Robin Wright.

Bill Clinton turns 68 on August 19.

WATCH: Jimmy Fallon’s House of Cards Spoof about NBC “House of Cue Cards”

TIME remembrance

Michael Brown Shooting in Ferguson Inspires Vigils Across The Nation

Demonstrators protested the shooting of the unarmed black teenager in the St. Louis suburb

Demonstrators gathered in peaceful gatherings in cities across the United States this week to protest the shooting of Michael Brown and the subsequent police reaction.

“The number of people, specifically young black men, that are being killed without a cause is rising every day,” said a protester in New York City after dozens of police officers broke up a peaceful demonstration. “It’s not ok. They need to stop doing this.”

After a week of outrage, TIME presents photos from across the country.

TIME politics

Rand Paul: We Must Demilitarize the Police

Police Shooting Missouri
Police in riot gear watch protesters in Ferguson, Mo. on Aug. 13, 2014. Jeff Roberson—AP

Anyone who thinks race does not skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention, Sen. Rand Paul writes for TIME, amid violence in Ferguson, Mo. over the police shooting death of Michael Brown

The shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown is an awful tragedy that continues to send shockwaves through the community of Ferguson, Missouri and across the nation.

If I had been told to get out of the street as a teenager, there would have been a distinct possibility that I might have smarted off. But, I wouldn’t have expected to be shot.

The outrage in Ferguson is understandable—though there is never an excuse for rioting or looting. There is a legitimate role for the police to keep the peace, but there should be a difference between a police response and a military response.

The images and scenes we continue to see in Ferguson resemble war more than traditional police action.

Glenn Reynolds, in Popular Mechanics, recognized the increasing militarization of the police five years ago. In 2009 he wrote:

Soldiers and police are supposed to be different. … Police look inward. They’re supposed to protect their fellow citizens from criminals, and to maintain order with a minimum of force.

It’s the difference between Audie Murphy and Andy Griffith. But nowadays, police are looking, and acting, more like soldiers than cops, with bad consequences. And those who suffer the consequences are usually innocent civilians.

The Cato Institute’s Walter Olson observed this week how the rising militarization of law enforcement is currently playing out in Ferguson:

Why armored vehicles in a Midwestern inner suburb? Why would cops wear camouflage gear against a terrain patterned by convenience stores and beauty parlors? Why are the authorities in Ferguson, Mo. so given to quasi-martial crowd control methods (such as bans on walking on the street) and, per the reporting of Riverfront Times, the firing of tear gas at people in their own yards? (“‘This my property!’ he shouted, prompting police to fire a tear gas canister directly at his face.”) Why would someone identifying himself as an 82nd Airborne Army veteran, observing the Ferguson police scene, comment that “We rolled lighter than that in an actual warzone”?

Olson added, “the dominant visual aspect of the story, however, has been the sight of overpowering police forces confronting unarmed protesters who are seen waving signs or just their hands.”

How did this happen?

Most police officers are good cops and good people. It is an unquestionably difficult job, especially in the current circumstances.

There is a systemic problem with today’s law enforcement.

Not surprisingly, big government has been at the heart of the problem. Washington has incentivized the militarization of local police precincts by using federal dollars to help municipal governments build what are essentially small armies—where police departments compete to acquire military gear that goes far beyond what most of Americans think of as law enforcement.

This is usually done in the name of fighting the war on drugs or terrorism. The Heritage Foundation’s Evan Bernick wrote in 2013 that, “the Department of Homeland Security has handed out anti-terrorism grants to cities and towns across the country, enabling them to buy armored vehicles, guns, armor, aircraft, and other equipment.”

Bernick continued, “federal agencies of all stripes, as well as local police departments in towns with populations less than 14,000, come equipped with SWAT teams and heavy artillery.”

Bernick noted the cartoonish imbalance between the equipment some police departments possess and the constituents they serve, “today, Bossier Parish, Louisiana, has a .50 caliber gun mounted on an armored vehicle. The Pentagon gives away millions of pieces of military equipment to police departments across the country—tanks included.”

When you couple this militarization of law enforcement with an erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury—national security letters, no-knock searches, broad general warrants, pre-conviction forfeiture—we begin to have a very serious problem on our hands.

Given these developments, it is almost impossible for many Americans not to feel like their government is targeting them. Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them.

This is part of the anguish we are seeing in the tragic events outside of St. Louis, Missouri. It is what the citizens of Ferguson feel when there is an unfortunate and heartbreaking shooting like the incident with Michael Brown.

Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention. Our prisons are full of black and brown men and women who are serving inappropriately long and harsh sentences for non-violent mistakes in their youth.

The militarization of our law enforcement is due to an unprecedented expansion of government power in this realm. It is one thing for federal officials to work in conjunction with local authorities to reduce or solve crime. It is quite another for them to subsidize it.

Americans must never sacrifice their liberty for an illusive and dangerous, or false, security. This has been a cause I have championed for years, and one that is at a near-crisis point in our country.

Let us continue to pray for Michael Brown’s family, the people of Ferguson, police, and citizens alike.

Paul is the junior U.S. Senator for Kentucky.

TIME White House

Watch President Obama Speak Live About Ferguson

President Barack Obama is delivering remarks about the violence in Ferguson, Mo., and about Iraq, from Martha’s Vineyard where he is currently on vacation.

TIME politics

There’s a Traveling Machine Trying to Stamp Money Out of Politics–Literally

SCOTUS
Common Cause, a national nonpartisan "citizens" lobbying group, held a protest to urge the Supreme Court to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Chris Maddaloni—CQ-Roll Call,Inc.

A series of calamitous Supreme Court rulings triggered a tsunami of corporate cash into politics and sent a wrecking ball into the cornerstone of our democracy

“This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender” are the words etched on Pete Seeger’s banjo. More than anyone else, the late Seeger taught me that you can use your place in life to be a force for good in the world. Seeger used his banjo and voice to advance workers’ rights, voting rights and civil rights. And he helped make the world a more just place.

But now the foundation of our republic – the principle of one person, one vote — is under threat. A series of calamitous 5-4 Supreme Court rulings, such as Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, triggered a tsunami of corporate cash into politics and sent a wrecking ball into the cornerstone of our democracy. We’re moving backwards, not forwards.

While I can’t sing or play banjo, I do have my name on a lot of ice cream packages. So, with a little help from my friends, I’ve built my own machine to attack injustice. The Amend-O-Matic Stamp Mobile has been traveling throughout the country to music festivals and events in support of a constitutional amendment that affirms that corporations are not people and money is not free speech.

Here’s how it works: People put a dollar in the machine. The dollar spirals up the “Tower of Corrupted Power” and coasts down a route that illustrates the Supreme Court rulings that must be overturned to get money out of politics. The top-hatted mask of “CorpoMan’s” face moves aside to reveal that he’s really a corporate office tower, while a sign pops up reading “Corporations Are Not People.” The dollar then reaches the “Money Mouth,” a large face that opens its mouth and vomits money while a sign reading “Money Is Not Speech” pops up. Finally, a bill is stamped with a message that says either “Stamp Money Out of Politics” or “Not To Be Used For Bribing Politicians” and the user retrieves his or her money. Later, when people spend their stamped dollar, they help spread the message to get big money out of politics.

Winning a constitutional amendment is no easy task. And there are a lot of skeptics out there that tell me one has no chance of passing. But that’s what people said about emancipation. They said it about women’s suffrage and they said it about the Civil Rights Movement, too. As Justice Louis Brandeis said, “Everything in the world that’s been worth doing had been declared impossible before it was done.” If we want a government of, for and by the people, then we have no other option.

Sixteen states and 600 towns and cities have already passed resolutions calling on Congress to propose an amendment. Fifty U.S. Senators and more than 100 House members have come on board. And this fall, the Senate will hold a vote on a proposed amendment. We’re making rapid headway, but still, people say it will never happen.

Well, Pete Seeger has told a little story about the teaspoon brigade many times. He once told it to me when I was feeling down and without hope. And I’ll tell it to you. Pete was walking along one day and he came upon a huge seesaw with a big heavy rock on the side that was down and a big bucket on the side that was up. There were all these little people scurrying around with teaspoons taking sand from a big pile and climbing up a ladder and dumping it in the bucket and then going back for more sand. But Pete noticed that there were holes in the bucket and the sand was running out as fast as they were putting it in. So he grabbed one of the guys with the teaspoons and said, “Don’t you see? The sand’s running out as fast as you’re putting it in. You’re never gonna get that seesaw to switch around.”

And the guy stopped for a moment, mopped his brow and said, “Oh, you don’t understand. There’s more of us with teaspoons all the time and sooner or later we’re gonna be putting sand into the bucket faster than it’s leaking out and then, shwoop, the seesaw will switch, and people are gonna say, ‘How did that happen so fast?’ and we’ll just say, “Us and our little teaspoons.”

Well, we don’t have teaspoons, but we have stamps. And we’re stamping messages on dollar bills to create a mass visual demonstration. Each stamped bill is seen by approximately 875 people. That means if one person stamps four bills a day for a year, the message will reach more than 1 million people. We currently have more than 25,000 people across the country stamping and soon it will be 50,000 and then 100,000. The movement to take back our government is snowballing. And one day, shwoop, the seesaw will switch.

Ben Cohen is the co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. He is the founder and head stamper of StampStampede.org, a non-profit dedicated to reducing the corrupting influence of money in politics.

TIME Congress

What Members Of Congress Pay Their Employees May Surprise You

Public records show that different members of Congress reward their employees in different ways

Long hours, stressful work environments, and low-pay make the turnover rate among Congressional staffers extremely high.

Turnover is so high, in fact, that 46%of staffers would look for a new job within a year due to a “desire to earn more money,” according to a study cited by The Hill. That’s understandable considering that the median pay for staff assistants—the most common position in the House’s workforce—is $30,000 per year, according to The Washington Times.

But new data collected by research engine FindTheBest shows that while many House members often have the budget to raise salaries, they choose not to, likely funneling their personnel allowances into funding for other expenses instead. The personnel allowance is part of the Members’ Representational Allowance (MRA), which the Committee on House Administration appropriates every year. It is exactly the same amount for every member, and was $944,671 in 2013.

Beyond a few restrictions—the maximum number of people any member can employee is 18 full-time and 4-part-time workers—there are few regulations for the way a member may spend his or her funds. So to determine how members spend their personnel allowances, FindTheBest analyzed data on personnel expenditures from the Statement of Disbursements of the House for the four most recent quarters of congressional reporting—April 2013 to March 2014.

What they found is that some members of the House channel the entirety of their personnel allowance into their staff, while others have tens of thousands leftover to spend elsewhere.

First, let’s look at the 10 members of Congress by average salary for their staff members, who commit all or most of their personnel allowance into exactly that, their personnel.

A glance at the numbers above shows that salaries for congressional staffers are not always in the common $30,000 to $50,000 range. The member with the highest average salary for his employees, Rep. Rob Bishop, pays his staff an average of $81,000. And of the ten members above, none pays an average salary of less than $69,000. But not all reps compensate their staff so generously. Of the 30 reps who pay their staff the least, none exceeds an average of $41,000.

It’s important to take the graph above with a grain of salt because it reflects an average of all the salaries for employees of a representative, summed up over the past four quarters. This means that members of the House with a high volume of new staff—new staff who have not received a year of compensation yet—will reflect lower averages.

Additionally, the average salaries for Rep. David Jolly (R-FL), Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), and Rep. Marshall Sanford (R-SC), are artificially low because they recently assumed office in special elections. Like representatives who have many new hires, representatives who are new to the House have a whole fleet of staffers who have been employed for less than a year.

But there are still insights to be gleaned, particularly among members who did not experience high turnover rates. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), for example, pays his employees an average of $41,000, and spent only $783,000 on his staff in the previous four quarters. Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat, pays his employees an average of $39,000 and committed only $715,000 of his personnel allowance to staff during the past four quarters.

Assuming that personnel allowance did not change from 2013 to 2014, the two spent about $162,000 and $230,000 less on their staffs in the span of a year respectively, than they had funds for. So before congressional staffers leave their posts, they may want to do some digging. Their boss may not be paying as much as that other Representative down the hall of the Capitol.

To do your own research, you can see a full accounting of congressional staff salaries on FindTheBest, here. To see how much House members spend on personnel per quarter, click here.

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