President Donald Trump could alleviate congressional housing concerns, make a buck and save taxpayers money all at the same time.
President Donald Trump and his developer-connected family are missing a golden opportunity to enhance their real estate holdings and, at the same time do something great for the country.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who gave up trying to be a Republican Congressman and resigned his seat, has taken some ribbing after suggesting that members of Congress should get a pay raise so they could afford DC’s high housing costs. Well, not a pay raise really, because with congressional approval ratings at historic lows, there is no way the public would go for boosting their annual salaries. Rather, let’s just do as Chaffetz suggests and call it a ‘stipend.”
Since a lot of people are busy and don’t pay attention to the nuts and bolts of congressional workings, slipping a $30,000-per-member “stipend” into the budget would be a lot easier than getting through something called a “pay increase.”
Chaffetz, many folks will recall, made headlines back in March when he suggested that all us freeloaders who would like to be able to see a doctor if we get sick, but don’t make enough to have the privilege of increasingly too costly health care, give up our iphones in order to pay for it.
Chaffetz didn’t say whether he was giving up his iphone when he whined about not being able to afford real estate in DC. But here is where Trump comes in.
The FBI has been looking at sites for a new headquarters and, presumably, that means the current J. Edgar Hoover facility at 935 Pennsylvania Ave. NW will go on the market. Trump should buy the property and turn it into a congressional dormitory.
Trump already has experience turning old federal properties into living spaces. His Trump International Hotel, coincidentally just across the street and a couple blocks away from the FBI building at 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, used to be the Old Post Office. Trump’s $200 million project transformed that facility, and there is no reason to think that he couldn’t do the same with the old FBI building once that agency vacates the property.
Then, he could either flip the property, selling it to us taxpayers so members of Congress could have an affordable place to live, or he could keep it and just lease it out to the U.S. government.
Either way, members of Congress could then pay a nominal rent – say the cost of an iphone and monthly phone plan – in order to have a reasonably priced place where they could stay. That would also alleviate the rather unsanitary conditions that result when – as Chaffetz did – members of Congress get an inkling to live in their offices as a way to keep both their job and their iphone and still survive on their measly $174,000 a year base pay.
The rent payments – there are 435 House members and 100 senators – would be more than enough to cover the cost whether Trump decided to sell or lease the property back to taxpayers.
And you would have to imagine that if you put all 535 of these folks together – sort of like the Big Brother house on steroids – it would not be long before they started working together a little bit more, even if only to vote their less popular colleagues out of the building.
As an added bonus, we could rig the place with tons of cameras so as to be able to keep a better eye on them.
Seems like a win-win-win to me. Trump makes money. Taxpayers save money. And members of Congress get a place to live and get to keep their iphones.
Jim Lee is editor of gatehouse Media Delaware. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.