Oklahoma GOP congressman: 'Bullcrap' to constituents who say taxpayers pay his salary

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Thursday April 13th, 2017


I think I kind or sort of get where he's trying to go with this, but he's failing badly to get there, and I'm not so sure it was a worthwhile destination in the first place.

He's Republican Congressman Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma, and during a townhall meeting a constituent brings up the well-worn talking point that taxpayers pay his salary. Whatever point the constituent may have hoped to support by raising that fact, it certainly is a fact.

Or is it? Apparently Mullin doesn't think so:

Trying to be as charitable to the guy as I can, I think he's asserting that he makes his real living from his plumbing business, such that whatever salary he draws from the taxpayers is unimportant to him and thus not a driver of what he does in the office. The bit about all the taxes he's paid was a bit unclear. At first I read it as him claiming he's paid so much in taxes as a business owner that he can essentially covered his own congressional salary, but maybe all he meant is that he's self-sufficient as a self-employed individual and he doesn't need the congressional gig to make ends meet.

He keeps emphasizing that his work as a congressman is a service, which I guess is his way of saying, hey, this is me doing you a favor, not you doing me a favor by paying me for it. I don't need the money anyway.

OK, but even if that's true, why put so much emphasis on it? I can accept the argument that taxpayers paying my salary doesn't entitle the taxpayers to dictate to me how I should vote on bills - you're there to represent them, not to check with them on every little thing you do - but what good do you accomplish by standing up there and de-emphasizing the importance of the taxpayers themselves?

GDP growth for Obama's final year? A measly 1.6 percent

Maybe it makes more sense in context, since I don't know what was being said by the constituents prior to Mullin making his "bullcrap" declaration. Maybe a guy was being very belligerent in asserting that Mullin is obligated to follow the diktats of the taxpayers because they pay him, and his rejoinder was to assert that he neither covets the job nor the pay he gets for doing it.

But the way to make that point is not to say what he said. It would be to say something like this: "Sir, you're right, you do pay my salary . . . although I've made a point as a business owner of making sure I'm self-sufficient and don't need to rely on that salary to make ends meet. That's because I don't want to become a career politician who wouldn't know what to do if I wasn't drawing a taxpayer-funded salary. That said, of course, I serve the taxpayers and ultimately in this job, you are my bosses. My job is to exercise the best judgment I can when making decisions for the benefit of everyone in my district, and the entire nation for that matter, since my votes affect everyone. Sometimes there will be those of you who don't agree with my decisions, and I respect that, but I hope you know that even when we disagree I'm still doing everything I can to look out for your best interests, which is the least I owe you."

That would have been the sort of statement that might have gone viral on social media to Mullin's benefit. Instead, he said what he said. Oh well. He might have more time to spend on that plumbing business in a couple of years.

Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!