We’re learning some significant facts about the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mike Johnson (R-LA), and here is perhaps the most shocking piece of information uncovered to date:
Over the course of seven years, Johnson has never reported a checking or savings account in his name, nor in the name of his wife or any of his children, disclosures show. In fact, he doesn’t appear to have money stashed in any investments, with his latest filing—covering 2022—showing no assets whatsoever.
Of course, it’s unlikely Johnson doesn’t actually have a bank account. What’s more likely is Johnson lives paycheck to paycheck—so much so that he doesn’t have enough money in his bank account to trigger the checking account disclosure rules for members of Congress.
Of course, the Daily Beast immediately assumes some kind of malfeasance on the part of Speaker Johnson while turning a blind eye to, say, Nancy Pelosi’s enormous wealth. But then, straining at gnats and swallowing camels seems to be a required job skill for the leftist media these days:
Jordan Libowitz, communications director for watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, offered a more blunt assessment, saying that if Johnson truly doesn’t have any assets, it “raises questions about his personal financial wellbeing.”
“It’s strange to see Speaker Johnson disclose no assets,” Libowitz told The Daily Beast. “He made over $200,000 last year, and his wife took home salary from two employers as well, so why isn’t there a bank account or any form of savings listed?”
Johnson has also carried debts over for several years, which Libowitz said would sharpen the question.
The only thing these people have to go on is information disclosed by Johnson himself, including information on his mortgages, personal loans, and, of course, his $223,500 salary as Speaker. (That is considerably better than the average 2023 U.S. salary of $74,580). But that hasn’t stopped even Twitter/X from casting aspersions:
Mike Johnson doesn't have any retirement savings, own a single stock, or have any assets at all. He has less than $5,000 in his bank account.— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) November 1, 2023
He's got a 250-500K mortgage, a home equity loan, and a personal loan.
So what's his retirement plan? To lobby? https://t.co/xPzUPqqc4w
If Matt Fuller had bothered to engage his brain and perhaps a tiny little bit of curiosity, he may have discovered that Mike Johnson has served in the House of Representatives since 2017, that being six years, and that Congress members (for better or worse) are covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System, which works like this:
As of 2019, members who participated in the congressional pension system are vested after five years of service. A pension is available to members 62 years of age with 5 years of service; 50 years or older with 20 years of service; or 25 years of service at any age. A reduced pension is available depending upon which of several different age/service options is chosen. If Members leave Congress before reaching retirement age, they may leave their contributions behind and receive a deferred pension later.
That, Mr. Fuller, is presumably Speaker Johnson’s retirement plan. It’s a far, far better plan than most Americans can hope for, but it’s safe to assume that 1) Speaker Johnson won’t be missing any meals in his retirement, and 2) Matt Fuller needs to attend an Investigative Journalism 101 class.
Granted, corruption is rampant in government right now; worse, equal treatment under the law is a dead letter. There seem to be two major ways people view the law. Some people understand that things like bribery and graft are illegal because they are wrong. Those people don’t obey the law from fear of punishment; they behave the way they do because it’s the right way to behave. Then there are people who believe that things like bribery and graft are wrong because they are illegal, and all too often, people like that will attempt something if they think they can get away with it, because they don’t see the act as wrong in and of itself. Too many pols are of that second sort, and that leads too many people to assume all of them are, even when some of them are not.
It’s far too easy for the left to assume some illegal or immoral activity to explain the apparent discontinuity between Speaker Johnson’s income and his apparent net worth. But there’s an easier option; one could apply Occam’s Razor and simply realize that for whatever reason, the Johnsons live within their means, occasionally suffer financial setbacks, borrow money to buy homes and vehicles, and so on.
In other words, just like most Americans do.
We, as a people, as a country, have no doubt become jaded by the shenanigans of the political class. (It’s also absolutely shameful that we even have a political class, but that’s a story for another day.) It’s sad that we so automatically assume the worst of these people, and it’s sadder still that we are so often justified in assuming the worst.
But casting the shadow of suspicion on someone, a younger political figure with a growing family, because their net worth/perceived wealth is less than expected? That’s a new one.