A Burden on the American Taxpayer, The Career Politician, Part IV
Welcome to part IV of The Career Politician, this will be the final part in this series. I hope that you have been following along with my posts, if not; I suggest that you read my prior posts first. In this part, I plan on covering congressional salaries, benefits, and perks that are all paid for by the American taxpayer. As always, I invite you to leave a comment at the end of my blog letting me know your thoughts on the subject. You can also subscribe by email and you’ll receive a notice each time that I post a blog, the button to subscribe is on the right in the sidebar. Be sure to share my website on Facebook and Yahoo. I really appreciate all of you that have taken the time to read my posts. Now on to the meat and taters of my post:
I don’t believe anyone would argue the fact that our legislators are well paid, but most people don’t realize how well. The average rank and file member of congress gets an annual base salary of $174,000, and the Speaker of the House has a base of $223,000, the same as Supreme Court justices. When you consider that we have 9 Supreme Court justices, 435 Representatives and 100 Senators, the American taxpayer is charged just over 95 million dollars a year just to support their salaries. These salaries increase every year due to an annual cost of living adjustment (COLA). This is just the icing on the cake; it’s what is under that icing that leaves a sour taste on the taxpayer’s palate.
Contrary to popular belief, politicians do pay into Social Security, just like the rest of us, and have been since 1984. It’s the other pension plans that are the most lucrative to them. Since 1984, members are covered by the Federal Employees’ Retirement System, in which they contribute 1.3 per cent of their salary and pay 6.2 percent to Social Security. There is also a special thrift-savings account, similar to a 401K that comes with a one-to-one match, meaning that for every dollar they contribute, the government contributes a dollar, this can be for as much as 5 percent of their salary. These pension benefits 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. A member of congress can be fully vested in as little as five years and receive 100% of their retirement benefits. To date there are nearly five hundred retired members of congress, many of which are receiving over $60,000 a year in retirement payments. Congressional pensions are also inflation-protected, a feature that fewer than 1 in 10 private plans offer.
Current and retired members of congress also enjoy what is considered to be the “Rolls-Royce” of health care plans http://articles.latimes.com/2009/aug/02/nation/na-congress-benefits2. Co-pays for this plan can be as low as $5 and prescriptions as low as $10. The average cost to federal employees under this plan is $1034 per month, of which $700 is paid directly with taxpayer dollars and the employee is responsible for the rest, but since taxpayers directly pay their salaries, in essence, we pay the entire amount of their health and retirement.
There are too many benefits that cost taxpayers millions of dollars to list separately here, so I’ll just list them and this is by no means a complete list:
- Free outpatient care at military hospitals such as Bethesda Naval Hospital.
- A 2 to 4 million dollar yearly budget for office administration.
- A furniture expense account.
- Franking Privileges, which are subsidized mass mailings for incumbents.
- Free parking at Washington area airports.
- Free income tax preparation.
- Special tax breaks for maintaining a second residence.
- They receive a week for federal holidays, where most Americans get a day.
- Free Congressional Research Service, so they don’t have to pay for legwork.
- Free members only gym and pool.
- Free members only dining room
Is it any wonder why politicians stay in office for so long? All of their needs are covered by the American taxpayer and we still give them a salary. Benjamin Franklin had the right idea; he proposed that elected government officials not be paid for their service. George Washington believed that eight years in office was long enough for anyone, after that, someone else should have a try at it.
American taxpayers and American government would be better served by benefits for Members of Congress that look more like incentives than perks http://www.kiplinger.com/businessresource/forecast/archive/Congressional_Perks_070619.html. Enactment of proposals for a defined-contribution pension plan, a scaled-back franking privilege, and a pay level tied to government efficiency, and a term-limit Constitutional amendment would help to restore balance to a system plagued by the trappings of office.
Career politicians continue to rape the American people of our rights while they steal from our wallets and we do nothing because we can’t stand together and make the changes that need to be made. Americans are more than willing to lay down their lives defending themselves from a foreign enemy, but when it comes to defending our rights at home we have become the land of the weak and the home of the chickensh!t. Most of you, who read this blog post, won’t even take the time to voice an opinion on here by leaving a comment and if you’re not willing to let your voice be heard here, how in the hell do you think your voice is going to be heard in Washington!