In recent decades (yes, decades), much has been said about reforming the cumbersome entitlement programs that have ballooned since first inception. A few dabbles at reform have been relatively successful, but political posturing especially during election periods reveals a lack of honesty and will when it comes to REAL reform.
That being said, the entitlement reform that is the topic of this post is “political entitlement.” Performing a few hits on a search engine, I learned that the politicians, serial killers, and sociopaths share several similar traits. One of these shared traits is a “grand sense of entitlement.” I give you Lisa Murkowski, Charlie Crist, and Charlie Rangel.
Not only do politicians in Washington feel they are entitled to keep the seats held by their respective states, but they also vote for themselves rather extravagant benefits at the expense of the taxpayer.
Though it’s oft told, it is not true that our elected officials are not participants in Social Security. Since the early 1980s they have been. As well, the 1980s brought reforms to the basic retirement options in which they can participate. What IS true and alarming is that after five years of service, a member of Congress will be entitled to a retirement check. Of course, rules apply based on age, years of service, and so on. In final analysis though, “Congressional pension benefits are 2-3 times more generous than what a similarly-salaried executive could expect to receive upon retiring from the private sector.”
Many of you may remember (SHOULD remember!) the President stating that all Americans should have the healthcare insurance options that those in Washington have. Ahh, to be so fortunate. They actually get:
• a choice of 10 healthcare plans that provide access to a national network of doctors, as well as several HMOs that serve each member's home state.
• special treatment at Washington's federal medical facilities
• access to their own pharmacy, doctors, nurses and medical technicians in an office conveniently located between the House and Senate chambers (for a few hundred dollars a month).
“In 2008, taxpayers spent about $15 billion to insure 8.5 million federal workers and their dependents. By contrast, 85% of private companies offering health coverage provide their employees one type of plan -- take it or leave it.”
Not only do we need to change the faces in DC, we need to change the employment laws on the books for these folks. We need to return the legislators to their home communities to continue to serve at the fire department, a church, or a PTA. Rather than spending a full career gathering power and perks at the expense of the American electorate, they should leave Washington to earn a salary and retirement pension that doesn't gouge the taxpayer.
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Julie Ranson is a college professor, wife, and mother who lives in Virginia.