It behooves us to ask


Saw another recent reference to “congressmen who retire at full pension after only one term.”

This is not true, of course. All congresspersons must serve five years to be vested in the pension system.

This means three two-year congressional terms.

Amount of pension is determined by number of years served and average of earnings during the highest-paid three years.

In no case may a member collect a pension that is more than 80 percent of his last years’ salary.

Every member also pays 6.2 percent into Social Security. Don’t believe anyone who tells you different.

They also pay 1.3 percent into the Federal Employees Pension System (FERS). The government puts in around 18 percent.

They also have a voluntary Thrift Plan which the government matches up to 5 percent of contributions.

Even if the congressperson opts not to participate in the Thrift Plan, the government still puts in 1 percent for every member. They can get this after serving two years.

So our current congressman, at the end of this year, will have collected $174,000 per year for four years, for a total of $696,000, not counting perks and expense allowance.

If he is elected one more term, he will be paid another $348,000, for a total of $1.044,000. He will also then be eligible to collect a pension.

Using the government formula, I calculate his pension will be about $17,748 per year.

A conservative estimate of his longevity, with ready access to good health care, even packing a couple of extra pounds, is around 20 years, for a total pension payout of $354,960.

I’m not adding in his Thrift Plan benefit, because I don’t know if he participates, so I can’t say if it is 1 percent of his pay or 5 percent of his contributions.

Just using the above numbers, it is clear that we, the taxpayer, have been and will be on the hook for a total of $1,398,960, if he is re-elected to one more term.

Given these facts, it behooves us then to ask what he has done for us lately.

Well, he made two promises when he first ran for office.

He would work to repeal the Affordable Care Law, and he would never, never vote on an issue without reading it first.

Well, he’s voted around 50 times to repeal the ACA. Does anyone believe to this day that he has read it?

What else? Oh, yes, one of his first votes would have cut the federal subsidy for Essential Air Service. This would have effectively ended passenger air service in Iron Mountain, Ironwood, Houghton, Escanaba, Sault Ste. Marie, Pellston, Alpena, Manistee. (I may have missed some, but you get the idea.)

They later walked it back and increased the subsidy.

Do you think Dr. Dan read that bill before his initial vote?

Do you think he understood it? He also voted for the Ryan Budget, which would have ended Medicare and increased medical costs for seniors.

He has stated he supports privatizing Social Security.

He voted against a bill that would have provided $1 billion in veterans’ benefits, voted for the government shutdown, and voted to make it harder for lower-income vets to get benefits. Voted against protecting veterans against foreclosures. Voted several times not to renew the Violence Against Women Act. Voted against the Considering Paycheck Fairness Act. Co-sponsored a bill to redefine rape as “forcible rape.”

He voted to block funding to enforce pollution limits, voted to block regulation of dangerous pollutants, and has consistently opposed EPA regulations.

Congress will be in session this year for a total of 93 days. Even assuming a 12 hour work day, this comes out to about $156 per hour.

He voted against increasing the minimum wage for hourly workers. He supported tax cuts for billionaires. Voted for the Ryan Budget which would have cut funding for education, as well as funding for higher education.

On the plus side, he co-sponsored a bill to allow veterans’ organizations to bid on surplus government equipment.

He has also spoken kindly about wise forestry. Somehow I don’t think we are getting our money’s worth in this congressman. Certainly not enough to pay him a pension for the rest of his life, which we will if he is re-elected.

Lola Johnson