Being a relatively honest professional politician is not much of a living, if we can believe their net worth filings.
For example, Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has two VISA credit card liabilities, one for $10,000 to $15,000 at 8.5% interest and one for $15,000 to $50,000 at 10.25% interest, which is kind of depressing for a 74-year-old man.
Former candidate Scott Walker also has substantial credit card debt, along with sizable student loan debts for his children.
The current First Family were getting by on cash-out condo mortgage refinancings until Barack’s 2004 speech at the Democratic convention spurred sales of his previously-remaindered 1995 memoir.
Marco Rubio is said to have been in the red a couple of years ago, in part due to the crash of Florida real estate values. But he got an $800,000 advance for his book about himself, so he appears to be in the black now.
(Paying off politicians through book sales is a pretty weird American tradition, since Americans don’t particularly like their politicians to be interesting authors. British politicians are often interesting writers — Burke, Disraeli, Churchill — but Americans usually like their candidates safely dull. How many books by the current candidates have many people finished reading? Probably Donald Trump’s 1987 advice book The Art of the Deal is the most avidly read. And James Webb’s 1978 Vietnam novel Fields of Fire is admired. But that’s about it. Has anybody finished the books published under Hillary’s name? Jeb is always reminding us that he’s an expert on immigration because he co-authored a book on the subject, but he mostly seems peeved that nobody has read it.)
Unlike Walker, who appears to be a Northern tightwad, Rubio has an ex-Miami Dolphin cheerleader wife, four kids, and a not unreasonable desire as a seemingly successful 40-something South Florida native to spend some of his book money on a boat.
Rubio has been criticized for buying an $80,000 fishing boat. But ocean-going boats aren’t like cars, which are mass produced and pretty reasonable in value. My impression from reading Dave Barry columns are that saltwater boats are an incredible money pit. But, hey, it’s Miami.
Rubio is notorious for seeming like a wholly owned subsidiary of Florida car dealer Norman Braman. But Rubio is a natural political athlete who has been an elected or appointed government official since his late 20s, so he has hardly had time to build an independent fortune.
My takeaway is that we probably ought to pay elected officials more. You generally get what you pay for. If you are a married Republican in your late 20s and are thinking about getting into elective politics, reading about Rubio’s financial struggles has to be depressing. The man is a definite political talent, but even he is having a hard time.
Republicans would likely benefit more than Democrats from paying elected officials more because Republicans tend more to have families, responsibilities, and other options in life for earning a living. Making being an elected official more of a career would like attract more Republican than Democratic talent.