PAYCHECK CHECK: Questions Raised
Iowa’s 4th Congressional District race finds itself in a battle over pay raises. Republican Congressman Steve King said, “What we have is a culture in the congress that will not balance the budget. They don’t have the mindset to do it.”
King said Wednesday he wants a balanced budget. So does his Democratic challenger, former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack. Vilsack said King is wrong for taking pay raises when congress failed to pass a balanced budget. King believes that argument is hypocritical.
Vilsack’s husband, Tom, headlined a conference call on behalf of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign where he stressed the importance of the state. Vilsack said, “On a personal note, we all recognize in Iowa that President Obama got his start in Iowa.”
Obama staff asked reporters not to refer to Vilsack as former governor or agriculture secretary. Vilsack wasn’t taking part in the call in his official role as cabinet member, the staff said. He was merely talking as Tom Vilsack. So, as just Tom Vilsack, we wanted to know what he thought of what King said about him.
King said, “Even though Christie Vilsack no longer lives in Terrace Hill with Tom Vilsack, it looks to me like they’re still living in a glass house.”
King pointed out Vilsack once took a 21% raise in a year as governor. The state had a constitutionally required balanced budget then. King wanted to know if Vilsack would turn down a raise in his current post with no balanced budget. Vilsack told Channel 13, “Our pay has been frozen for the last 3 years and so we’re going to continue to work hard, obviously, those of us who serve in a variety of capacities in public service, in the jobs that the president is privileged to give us are here because we care deeply about the work.”
As far as Christie Vilsack’s challenge to turn down a pay raise, King said he will go one more step: no balanced budget, no paycheck. King said, “Some have said that they don’t get their pay unless they balance their budget. That might be a way to get that done and I would support that.”
Staff for Democratic Congressmen Bruce Braley, Leonard Boswell and Dave Loebsack said their member supports a plan that would stop Congress from getting paid without a balanced budget. Staff for Republican Congressman Tom Latham offered a slightly different response. Latham supports a balanced budget amendment and doesn’t want Congress to get paid if it fails to pass a budget, which it has failed to do for the past 3 years.