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Lawmakers Make More Money Than You And Get Generous Health Plans On Your Dime

August 11, 2013

When I went around campaigning on behalf of former Congressman Ron Paul, some people that came to do the door commented that they did not want to throw their vote away. The fact is that those of you who think that way already spent many years of your life throwing your vote away for people you don’t know from a can a paint to obtain a job where they have the power to change laws and make more money than you do. Did you know that the base salary for a member of the House of Congress is $174,000 a year? Why would you vote for someone you don’t know to make that much money and make laws that may adversely affect your right to buy whatever products you like?

The six digit salary is not all there is when becoming a member of Congress, there are more perks. A lot more perks! Have you ever heard of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB)? That’s where Congress members and other government employees obtain health insurance for themselves and their families. The FEHB’s is the biggest employer-provided health insurance program in the country, with more than eight million members. Insurers who want to take part have to provide a full gamut of benefits.

Everyone elected to Congress receives a subsidy equal to about three-quarters of their health insurance premiums–at the taxpayer’s expense. All members of Congress (plus their family members) have guaranteed access to coverage–even if they have a preexisting condition like cancer or diabetes. And they pay the same amount for coverage whether they’re healthy or sick.

Okay, so what about pens

Anyone in Congress who’s served a minimum amount of time in office is eligible for retiree health coverage–even if he or she retires early.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management assists your congresspersons in appealing any health insurance claims that get denied and assists them in identifying and negotiating with insurance carriers who can offer your elected representatives the lowest premiums possible. Isn’t that special?

Now lets look at the Civil Service Retirement System, which anyone elected to Congress before 1984 generally participates in. Or, if you entered the arena after that, there’s the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). Members do put in a percentage of their salary toward future benefits, with pensions being figured under a formula that takes into account how long they served, average of their three highest annual salaries and an “accrual rate.” But, according to the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), “congressional pensions are typically 2-3 times more generous than those offered to similarly-salaried workers in the private sector, and are even more generous than pensions for most federal workers.”

According to the AARP, “on the grounds that working in Congress means uncertain job security, elected members and their staffs receive a larger retirement benefit from FERS for each year of service than other federal employees, They also become eligible for a retirement annuity at a younger age and with fewer years of service.”

But congressional incumbents have something like a 95 percent reelection rate–mainly because (in the House) their parties get to create their own safe districts–which the two party mafia do together in collusion to make sure they are all safe. Not too much job insecurity there. I’d say few things in life could be more predictable than having the same Mafioso politician back in office. In other words, incumbents seeking reelection to the House have a better than 99 percent success rate.

And when these politicians do leave office they don’t have to worry about what they plan to do for a living for the rest of their life. They have a special door they can walk through and have a job waiting for them. This is a “revolving door that shuffles    former federal employees into jobs as lobbyists, consultants and strategists    just as the door pulls former hired guns into government careers. While officials in    the executive branch, Congress and senior congressional staffers spin in and    out of the private and public sectors, so too does privilege, power, access    and, of course, money.”

Okay, so what about pensions for our chief executives? Since the 1950s, they’ve been covered under the Former Presidents Act. NTU’s Vice President for Policy and Communications, Pete Sepp, says, “What started as a modest system to help Harry Truman answer his mail has become a millionaires’ club for ex-Presidents, and taxpayers are the ones covering the dues. The 50-year-old benefit structure Congress provided should be adjusted to reflect the reality of modern politics and economics.” NTU calculates that George W. Bush will draw a Presidential pension that will start at $196,700 per year, and would add up to $5.56 million over his lifetime, should he live to be 83.5 years old, the age predicted by actuarial tables for a male born in his year. All former Presidents receive a pension for life immediately upon leaving office. Plus, ongoing Secret Service protection for an ex-president and his wife.

Do you like to travel? Then run for office. Congress members also get travel allowances for trips between D.C. and their home districts, as well as for inside their state. Look at Barack Obama, during his first two years in office he became the most widely traveled president in our history. He made fifteen trips to thirty-four countries, traveling abroad for a total of fifty-five days. This tops the previous record of 54 days abroad set by President George H. W. Bush during his first two years.

Our elected officials manage to leave D.C. (if they ever do) with more bucks in the bank than when they arrived! Now I know what kind of career change I want to make in my life. In fact, I have been considering securities trading as a career goal, but it seems that by becoming a politician I can take care of that too and gain an advantage with insider trading on the stock market just like they do. According to a New York Times article, U.S. Senators were beating the market by an average of 12 percent a year. And no we are not just talking about the Republicans, this included the Democrats as well. “The results clearly support the notion that members of the Senate trade with a substantial informational advantage over ordinary investors,” says the author of the report, Professor Alan Ziobrowski of the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University. Not even George Soros or Warren Buffet make out this good.

For the public, the debate centers on several questions. Should members of  Congress get to trade on and make money from inside information that can  seriously sway the markets? Are elected representatives serving the interest of  their constituents, or are they serving their bank accounts? And just how do we  stop them from abusing their office through insider trading? This is where the STOCK Act comes in around 2004 to establish some rules on conflict-of-interest and a ban on insider trading. This Act would have gone nowhere had it not been for the 60 Minutes report and a book titled Throw Them All Out which brought the STOCK Act back to life and passed both houses. Now lawmakers and other senior officials, including the president and vice-president, will be required to report their investment transactions every month of forty-five days instead of yearly.

So you have all these greedy corrupt politicians on both the Republican and Democrat side who are obviously in office just to make tons of money and yet when an upstanding citizen like Bradley Manning exposes government corruption he gets threatened with life in prison.

Did you know that if you are a member of Congress you are not subjected to any background checks? Great job isn’t it? In fact, you are granted a security clearance just because you’ve been elected. All you have to do is promise that you will never reveal your country’s secrets. That’s all! You don’t believe me? Look up the California Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham who eventually pled guilty to accepting $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractor MZM Inc. Throughout the five months that Cunningham was under federal investigation, he still retained access to our country’s most sensitive information. In most jobs if they accuse you of fraud they don’t even let you back in the building. And guess what?! He was getting his government pension too!

What do former congressman Dan Rostenkowski [D-IL], James Traficant [D-OH] and Bob Ney [R-OH] have in common with Duke Cunningham? All are convicted felons still reaping generous pensions, about $250,000 a year, for the rest of their lives from you and me, the taxpayers.

I will close this article with this thought. With all these benefits and money making opportunities I am wondering if I should run for office myself, but the level of corruption in D.C. would make me puke everyday I have to go to work next to these politico-mafiosos. I don’t know, what do you the reader think? Should I avail myself of these wonderful money making opportunities and run for office?


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