Should Congress be Placed
Into Social Security

       Prior to 1984 the Congressional members neither paid into Social Security, nor were they eligible for Social Security. Prior to this time Congress was covered by a much better plan called Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), after the 1983 Federal Act (PL 98-21) they were required (only) to pay into Social Security. All new Congressmen (meaning those after this 1983 date) were then offered a new Federal Service Retirement System (FSRS) as a replacement retirement policy. Everyone both before and after this 1983 date being eligible for Social Security as Full or Supplementary to their retirement package.
  
So what does this mean?

       What this means is that Social Security is also now available in either full or supplementary to a Congressional retirement package. After 1983, the people entering Congress were given a new retirement plan called Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS)... automatic after the date of 1983, and still superior to Social Security.

       Most important, regarding all members prior to 1983, these people (have) every one of the aforementioned plans as available in combination or in supplementary packages. No data being available or found regarding actual amounts involved and pertinent individually to this later case, except slight of hand misinformation.

       Many suspicious stories and Emails are out today, those which try to throw saintly light on Congress are at best muddying the facts regarding the rake-off in which Congress is involved, especially the need to put Congress into Social Security (only) with the rest of us government-employee's (taxpayers). For that reason I am debunking their debunking, and I'll ask you based upon any misinformation involved, who in fact is misinforming with mis-information. Understand also I am not talking about people that run for Congressional Office (only) for 1-2 terms or period long enough to make connections, connections they use after they become Lobbyists for Mega-Corp's that (bride) favors from sitting (old-core) Congressmen.

Typical error in rebuttal to Email and reports against the Congressional retirement plan's are:
  • (only) if current pension levels and cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for Congress members continue to apply in the future, then (only) could some former members of Congress conceivably collect a large amount in annuities.
  • the huge dollar amounts mentioned are based upon extreme cases, those of politicians who entered Congress at a relatively early age, served for several decades, and retired.

       Both of these previous statements are in error, completely ignoring that time required for Congressional retirement may be accrued also from military and many other federal government services. Ever hear of a person retiring in their early 40s after a 20-year career in the military, then entering Congress? Keep in (longevity) mind that Congressional wives also qualify under these plans, and also receive sums from these Congressional policies. The average length of service for Congressional retiree's for years 2002-3 was 20-21.6 years of (federal) service.

       The error in saying large annuity payments are rare exceptions (for Congressional employee's) is misleading, in fact as explained above, it is quite possible to fulfill the 20 year requirement for Full Retirement coverage while still relatively young, although the government does not release these individual payment figures for corroboration (except as federal-employee averages). Perhaps the biggest error is in not reporting the less known supplementary income of Congress sometimes called "Perk, PAC, Pork, and Contributions (aka Payola)", also the government Revolving Door into corporate boardrooms, or the Many former Congressmen after developing needed connections who also come back as Corporate lobbyist's.

       Understand that the entire premise of putting Congress into Social Security (only), is not based upon the many Congressional people who are one-time/short-term representative's, who never or hardly ever get into the backroom with the "Old Guard." It is in regard to Pork, PAC, Perk and Payola people in Congress who hold (as in longevity) power and are well rewarded both before and after retirement. Currently (yr=2007) the rank and file Legislator earns about $145-165,000.00, with the Speaker of the House recently earning $203,000.00, could you live on 80% (or more) of this?

       Statements in error are also those using slight of hand figures called "averages", referring to (Federal Employees) payout averages. This is accomplished in (data averaging) statements as follows, in 1998 the "average" annuity for a retired Congressmen was $50,616 (for those who retired under CSRS), and $46,908 (for those who retired under FERS). These figures are accurate only in "average", and at that are 2-3 times better than the average pension collected by the average (CEO) taxpayer. It is generally more accurate that when averages are used, you can bet your entire 101K-plan that someone is trying to hide something.

       Always look sideways at data-statements saying "average", the IRS states that the wealthy make an average of $55,000.00 and above, this means that it takes a lot of poor people to reduce to an "average" the $Multi-Millions or Billions stuffed into wealthy bank accounts. Let's just say that "average" refers to the average peon, then everyone should know more or less which body of people are being referred to.

       In actual fact old-core/hard-core Congress has a number of plans they may choose from, some overlapping, and this in fact making up for paying into Social Security.

       Members of Congress are eligible for a pension when they reach the age of 50, but only if they've completed 20 years of (accumulated government such as military, Congress, etc.) service. Members are eligible at any age after completing 25 years of accumulated service or after they reach the age of 62. Also note that Member's of Congress have to serve at least 5 years of accumulated service before they receive a pension.

Congressmen may have outher incomes as
for instance being a Corp Counselor or Advisor and
of course there are friends that make contributions or
maybe loan their Corp jet for a much needed junket

       It is worth remembering that Congressional salaries are not like that of Uncle Joe who works in the bakery, and very likely old Joe works many more hours per year... old in this case more accurately referring to an old-guard who rarely want to give up their Perky job, while often listed on Corporate of this, that, and another Boardroom benefit and wage accounts. Or is it possible that vice-President Cheney listing $XXX MILLION income tax form in year 2005 in which due to extreme charity contributions he got a $2-Million refund, and it was entirely made possible from work in vice... Presidency?

Where do Pork/PAC/Perk/Payola people come from...
many 'short term' Ex-Congressmen become Lobbyists

       Those in Email and news reports being referred to are the hard core Congressman, those who are well rewarded both before and after retirement. These are people often serving themselves with PAC, Pork, Perk, and Payola. The 'rarity' regarding these perks, is ever finding them listed on tax entries, and if found being listed at greatly reduced amounts or as tax-deductions.

       We do know that the Congress who work for the wealthy have a well-established 'longevity' in serving within government office/s. Some when between government jobs finding (Outsourced) Corporate positions, and in these well paying perks, also finding additional retirement and vested policies (hello Cheney).
       In year 2006 while most Americans returned from their holiday vacation in the first week of January, the House took nearly the entire month off, commencing the session on January 31st. In February, the House met for only 47 hours, an average work week for many Americans. While the year still has over 4 months to go, the calendar leaves a maximum of only 16 additional days for the House to complete its business. Meanwhile, the Senate is also projected to have a light workload this year, devoting only 125 days to legislative business, a 34-day drop from 2005.

       It would be very unlikely Congressional representatives with any length of service would chose Social Security as their only retirement plan (unless supplemental and temporary), keeping in mind SS can be used in a supplement. This leaves two plans called CSRS (PL79-601) and FERS (PL 99-335), not to mention TSP (Thrift Savings Plans with generous gov-match) that with a good lawyer (hello Congress), both plans used in supplemental ways making an excellent retirement. By law (let's hear a chuckle) the starting amount of a Member's retirement annuity may not exceed 80% of his or her final (three highest year) salary, but again minus Perk, PAC, Pork and Payola.

       Remember also that Perk, PAC, Pork and Payola refers to a labyrinth of goodies besides initial salary. Today, members of the United States Congress enjoy a vast web of prerequisites that benefit them personally as well as professionally, including:

* Comfortable salaries that are often determined through legislative sleight-of-hand. Contrary to the arguments of many Washington "insiders," the cost of living has rarely eroded the historical value of lawmakers' pay, which on a constant-dollar basis is hovering near the postwar high.
* Pension benefits that are two to three times more generous than those offered in the private sector for similarly-salaried executives. Taxpayers directly cover at least 80 percent of this costly plan. Congressional pensions are also inflation-protected, a feature that fewer than 1 in 10 private plans offer.
* Health and life insurance, approximately 3/4 and 1/3 of whose costs, respectively, are subsidized by taxpayers.
* Wheeled perks, including limousines for senior Members, prized parking spaces on Capitol Hill, and choice spots at Washington's two major airports.
* Travel to far-flung destinations as well as to home states and districts. Despite recent attempts to toughen gift and travel rules, "junkets" are still readily available prerogatives for many Members.
* A wide range of smaller perks that have defied reform efforts, from cut-rate health club membership, subsidized Child Care, proposed Tax Free 'Per-Diem', generous Beauty & Barber Shop facility, fine Office furnishings, ect, ect.

       But the very nature of public office itself demands a more comprehensive definition of a "perk" than that normally applied to corporate America. Members of Congress can also wield official powers that allow them to continue to enjoy the personal benefits outlined above, such as:

* The franking privilege, which gives lawmakers millions in tax dollars to create a favorable public image. Experts across the political spectrum have labeled the frank as an unfair electioneering tool. In past election cycles, Congressional incumbents have spent as much on franking alone as challengers have spent on their entire campaigns.

* An office staff that performs "constituent services" and doles out pork-barrel spending, providing more opportunities for "favors" that can be returned only at election time.

* Exemptions and immunities from tax, pension, and other laws that burden private citizens -- all crafted by lawmakers themselves.
       What all of this is meant to convey, is that you can continue to believe Congress serves your best interests, or you can wade through the (expletive) as I have and find out differently. Here is one paragraph of what I call expletive after reading through the minimal levels of retirement mentioned in Congressional CRS report.

"The initial CSRS annuities may not exceed 80% of a Member's final pay. Over time, however, if Congressional pay were to remain unchanged, a retired Member's CSRS pension could exceed the nominal amount of his or her final pay. Nevertheless, because COLAs merely prevent purchasing power of an annuity from being eroded by inflation, the real value of a CSRS pension does not increase or decrease during retirement, provided that the price index on which COLA is based is an accurate measure of the rate of inflation."
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       Or, this retirement annuity will not decrease even if the (expletive) hits the fan, and better days are ahead as cost of living (that has increased for the past 250 years) effects these annuities payments.

       If you would like a more detailed account of how you are ripped off by your "Servants" in Congress, try these (two) Internet article's:
http://www.ntu.org/main/press.php?PressID=343
http://www.c-span.org/questions/weekly68.htm

       By the way, if you were waiting for list of actual amounts Congressional retiree's are paid, sorry, the US Government will not allow common taxpayers this information.
       Check this site out for 'Pork-Congress' at work under the Bush Administration, see how it effected 'ordinary citizens':
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_09/007023.php.


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