Angry at Public Sector Pensions? How about Members of Congress?
Thursday, March 17, 2011
If Republicans and other critics of public employee retirement plans think such pensions are too generous and costly to taxpayers, they really should consider what members of Congress are enjoying.
An analysis by McClatchy Newspapers found that those serving in the House and Senate pay less into their pensions and enjoy a better match from taxpayers than most state employees do across the country.
Members of Congress also enjoy both a defined-benefit plan and a defined-contribution plan that are based on how many years a legislator has served. Only 30% of American workers have defined-benefits plans.
More than 40 lawmakers (13 senators and 31 representatives) have accrued annual pensions worth at least $50,000. Compare that to the average state or local government retiree 65 or older who receives a median annual amount of $8,016.
Lawmakers can begin collecting their pensions at 62 if they have served a mere five years in office. If they’ve served 20 years, they can collect at age 50.
Writing for McClatchy, Kevin Hall points out that following World War II, generous retirement packages for members of Congress were created to attract people into public service who otherwise would have entered the private sector. More recently, retired politicians have had little trouble moving into high-paying jobs as lobbyists or with law firms and trade associations. However, the attractive Congressional pension plans have remained in place.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
Congressional Pensions Fall on High End of Scale (by Kevin Hall, McClatchy Newspapers)
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