- Days left

Does It Really Cost This Tea Party Congressman $200,000 to Feed His Family?

×
What do Tea Party congressman feed their families? On Monday, Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), a member of Michele Bachmann's Tea Party Caucus met with MSNBC's Chris Jansing to discuss President Obama's proposed tax increases on the wealthy. Using his own income as an example, Fleming gave an interesting glimpse into the world of Tea Party economic theory ... and economic justifications.

Unlike many of his fellow legislators, Fleming's taxes would rise under the Obama plan. This is because, in addition to his $174,000 congressional salary -- which is far below the minimum threshold for Obama's tax increases -- Fleming also pulls in an impressive $6.3 million from his investments, including several Subway franchise restaurants and UPS stores.

However, Fleming was quick to explain that he only brought home a small portion of his $6.3 million gross income. As he told Jansing, "That's before you pay 500 employees, you pay rent, you pay equipment and food. The actual net income of that was only a mere fraction of that amount." In fact, according to Fleming, he made a comparatively paltry $600,000.

While decidedly less than $6.3 million, Fleming's $600,000 is still nothing to sneeze at: Given the $49,455 that the median American household brought home in 2010, the congressman's yearly income equaled the take-home pay of more than a dozen average families. But, as Fleming noted, even that princely sum was not all it appeared. In order to create more jobs -- and, not coincidentally, expand his business -- Rep. Fleming needed to invest more money: "By the time I feed my family, I have maybe $400,000 to invest in new locations, upgrade my locations, buy more equipment ..."

So, let's see: $600,000 minus $400,000 for reinvestment leaves $200,000 that Fleming has budgeted to "feed his family." In other words, the congressman's yearly food budget is more than the total take home salary for four average families.

And how many people does Fleming's $200,000 feed? Well, the congressman and his wife Cindy have four grown children. Assuming that the pair still has all of their children living under the same roof, the USDA's food allotment under its "Moderate-cost" plan would total $378.90 per week, or $19,702 per year. So, Congressman Fleming is budgeting more than 10 times the average yearly food cost for a family his size.

When Jansing pointed out the vast gap between the average American salary and Fleming's, the congressman responded: "Class warfare has never created a job."

Apparently, however, it puts a lot of food on the table.

Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at bruce.watson@teamaol.com, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.



Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Timing Your Spending

How to pay less by changing when you purchase.

View Course »

How to Avoid Financial Scams

Avoid getting duped by financial scams.

View Course »

TurboTax Articles

11 Fun Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund

There are plenty of practical ways to spend your tax refund ? such as saving for major expenses, banking it as the start of an emergency fund or paying down debt. But it?s hard to resist the allure of spending some or all of your refund on something a little more fun. If that?s the road you want to go down, here are some ways suggestions.

A Tax Filing Factsheet for eBay Sellers

You can find almost anything for sale on eBay, from a piece of fine art to clippings of Justin Bieber?s hair. So it's no surprise that the IRS doesn't view all sellers alike in the online marketplace. You may not have to pay tax at all if you are essentially hosting an online garage sale, but if you run your eBay account more like a business, you should be reporting your sales to the IRS.

Tax Tips for Handymen and Odd Jobs

If you work as a handyman or do odd jobs around town for money, you are operating a business in the eyes of the IRS. Since you own your own business, you're likely a self-employed sole proprietor. This means you'll have lots of potential tax deductions to investigate.

Identity Theft: 7 Steps to Reclaiming Your Identity and Keeping it Safe

As more personal information continues to be stored online, the risk of identity theft also increases. In 2014 alone, the Bureau of Justice reported that 17.6 million U.S. residents experienced identity theft. If someone uses your personal data pretending to be you, it's a serious crime. With quick, decisive action, you can help discover the fraud, stop further damage and reclaim your identity. Here are six steps to get you on your way.