The United States is in its 237th year of existence as an experiment in a republican form of government. Conceptually we were designed as an anti-royalist state; however we seem to be becoming more and more a nation under the heel of a ruling class.
Our bi-cameral Congress passed the Affordable Care Act and the President signed the bill into law in March 2010. Whether one thinks that Obamacare is a good or bad idea, one thing is certain; Congress does not want the provisions contained in it for themselves. They have been given a waiver and their healthcare premiums, and those of their staffs, will be subsidized by the taxpayers. Obamacare has been imposed on Harry Reid’s unwashed masses and we have no recourse. Whether we like it or lump it, we are forced to have it. But not the majestic aristocracy of Congress and their loyal courtiers!
At age 65, individuals are enrolled in Medicare, the current monthly co-payment is $104.90 which equals $1,258.80 this year. This represents about 10 – 13% of Social Security (SS) income. And then most Medicare recipients also must purchase a Medicare supplement plan or risk catastrophic out of pocket medical expenses.
The average SS income for one who retires at age 65 is $18,234.00 per year. The average congressional Social Security income is $30,156.00 per year; most of us don’t make $174,000.00 a year in income so our SS is based on a much lower income.
The internet is awash with wild claims regarding Congressional pensions, most are exaggerated. The rules are complicated, but why wouldn’t they be, they were devised by Congress. Here are some of the basics:
• A congressional member must serve five years to be eligible for a federal retirement. Kind of makes one wonder why their main priority is getting re-elected?
• There are two congressional retirement programs: Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).
• Under CSRS, congress members contribute to SS and 8% of their salary to CSRS; the 8% is matched by the taxpayers.
• Under FERS, congress member contribute to SS and contribute 3.1% of their salary to FERS; the taxpayers contribute 18.3%.
a. A congress member with 20 years in the FERS program would receive a pension of $59,160.00
b. A congress member with 5 years in CSRS and 25 years in FERS would receive a pension of $89,610.00
c. A congress member with 30 years in the CSRS program would receive a pension of $130,500.00.
Then there is the Thrift Plan, which is kind of like a 401K on steroids.
• Under the Thrift Plan congress members are vested after two years, they can make a pre-taxed contribution of up to 5% of their salary, and the taxpayers matches the 5%.
Congress receives health insurance under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB). About 75% of their premiums are paid by the American taxpayers.
• Congress members can also receive free medical treatment from the Office of the Attending Physician at the U.S. Capital at a staggering total annual cost of $407.00.
• Congress members can also receive free medical care from any uniformed military medical facility.
Congress members are exempt from many of the “rules of law” which apply to average citizens. Congressional members are exempt from:
• OSHA regulations which govern workplace safety standards.
• The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires that public companies must certify their accounts annually and misleading information can lead to a $5 million fine and up to 20 years in prison. Of course Congress excluded itself from these requirements.
• The National Labor Relations Act allows collective bargaining; these rights do not apply to congressional employees.
• Congress is exempt from federal minimum wage laws and have unpaid employees.
• They are also exempt from Merit System Protection statutes and can promote the dullest worker whose relative raises the most money for the congress member, or fire the worked if the money flow stops.
• Congress is exempt from the intent of Title VII which insures anti-discrimination. Actually they are not exempt; they just decide how and when they will comply – kind of like we do with traffic laws.
Congress members tout themselves as “public servants.” A public servant runs into your burning house and saves your dog, or carries a gun and keeps the animals somewhat in check. Public servants do not take lavish fact finding junkets to world trouble spots like: Tahiti, Hawaii, Cannes, and the like at taxpayer expense. Public servants don’t come into office with modest means and acquire obscene wealth and power by peddling their influence surreptitiously.
Law makers were intended to travel to the seat of government, discuss issues, vote, and then return to their vocations. The vocation of “politician” was never intended any more than Duke, Earl, or any other special entitlement title. And they were certainly not intended to turn the seat of government into a “red light district” as they peddle their wares to lobbyists and contributors.
We are descendants of individuals who came to America to escape the oppression of, and obligation to support kings and aristocrats. Now we find ourselves supporting an elitist class that is basically untouchable in their arrogance and excesses. Like some of the British royals, some of ours are incapable of being productive, so they are supported by the serfdom.
The British cheer their monarchs, “Bronx cheers” are more appropriate for ours; or “tar and feathers” and a free ride out of town.
Bill Shuey is a freelance writer who lives in Murphy, NC. He can be contacted at: email@example.com. His columns can be read at: