Political Retirement

Why Congress Cares Little about Social Security

They call it the “Third Rail” of American politics. More than abortion or guns or taxes, if you want to be elected to national office, you’d better stand solidly behind Social Security.

But have you ever wondered why, for example, it took until last year to get Congress to pass a law allowing seniors to both work and collect full Social Security benefits? Or why, compared with all other industrialized nations, our pension system is so miserly?

Congress will soon debate helping out those millions of our cash-strapped fellow seniors who each month must choose between eating and taking their medicine.

This would seem a no-brainer until you to learn that your Senators and Congressfolks themselves don’t depend on Social Security. What’s good enough for you and me just doesn’t cut it for our money-grubbing Washington elite.

For all practical purposes, it works like this: When these good servants of the public retire, they continue to draw 80 percent of their highest pay until they die. It may be increased from time to time by cost of living adjustments.

Pretty good payout That’s the way it is with the Federal Employment Retirement System. Talk about the Golden Years! No wonder politicians drool so incontinently over getting elected to Congress.

I suppose in the land of $563 hammers and $1,200 toilet seats, we taxpayers are getting off cheap. But how fair is it for those of us who pay to keep our politicos in luxury for life draw an average of less than $1,000 a month from a Social Security system into which we paid our entire working lives?

Suddenly Trivia: What is a Congressman yearly base pay? a) $100,000 b), 125,550 c) $145,100

No wonder these bozos talk so glibly about privatizing Social Security. While their Wall Street benefactors lobbying for privatization throw bags of legalized bribes into their reelection campaign funds – Social Security management fees would mean new Wall Street revenues of $10 to $40 billion a year – our Congressmen and women have nothing to lose by privatizing. Even if Wall Street crashes and burns, bringing Social Security and future retirees to its knees. Unlike the rest of us, our politicians are be assured of a rosy retirement.

I’ll tell you what. If you want to see Social Security with a good, safe return that will allow all seniors a decent retirement with both food and medicine, just change one thing: Put Congress on Social Security like the rest of us.

Instead of seeing them anxiously pushing their worry beads around about what’s going to happen to Social Security 35 years from now when boomers are solidly into mortality and funding possibly doesn’t meet draws, we’d see them reform it immediately, lickety-split. [Little known fact: If Social Security proceeds continue just as they have for the last 50 years, it will never go broke.]

Of course, we’d have to keep a close eye on our politicos, stopping them before they snuck through yet another Golden Fleece retirement for themselves. Like their stealth pay raises, chances are they’d use a parliamentary procedure to avoid going on record with their vote, then tuck the golden egg into a large appropriations bill hoping no one was watching.

Too bad politicians believe that they can indeed fool all the people all the time. Doubly sad that we’ve given them good reason.

Suddenly Trivia Answer: c) $145,100 as of their last pay raise in January. They are also allowed to make an additional maximum 15 percent of their salary from outside sources. In the meantime, the average US household annual income is around $36,000.


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