An Open Letter to Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez

Dear Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez:

First off, I'd like to thank you for the hard work you do as a Congressperson. We may not be always in agreement politically, but I respect the work you do and the office you hold.

I was reading the above article about the situation that members of Congress are in, having to maintain two homes in order to properly do their job. This is something I've actually thought about often,because I've been in a similar situation. For several years I had a temporary gig in Northern Connecticut, but still maintained other work back here in New York City. After working the CT gig for a month, spending 4 hours a day commuting on top of the 8 to 10 hours a day working was getting to be too much for me. Since the gig was open to renewals, I didn't know when things were going to end.  So I found some temporary Connecticut housing in a SRO which I rented on top of my Astoria, Queens apartment. I understand something of the costs of maintaining two households as well as a longer than average commute and the costs that entails both financially and personally.

I have to question your discussion is when you say it's difficult  to maintain 2 households on your $174,000 salary. The average New York City salary is about $75,000 a year, so you were making $100,000 more than your average constituent. In my head, I've always justified congressional salaries because of the added expenders Congresspeople have with housing and commuting.

I got to thinking about the numbers.  An average rent for a 1 bedroom apartment in the Washington, DC is just under $3,000.  If you figure another $500 a month for maintenance and utilities on the apartment and $1000/mo to fly back and forth from NYC, you're still collecting $120,000 a year, $45,000 a year more than your average constituent.

In my younger days, like you, I was a service worker. I couldn't imagine how I'd react if somebody at one of my tables was complaining to me that they had trouble making ends meet on a salary that was twice what I was making.  I imagine I'd feel this person who is out of touch with people in the lower and middle class of society.

Again I respect who you are, I respect what you do, but I wish you'd think of the large number of people you represent who aren't earning what you're earning in times where inflation is running amuck and it's harder each day for the average New Yorker to make ends meet. I don't like using the word "privilege" but this is what it feels like.

Thank you again for your service.

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