Debunking Lies Told To Us About Congress

We’ve all received the email stating that Congress is responsible for getting a lot of free stuff, millions of dollars in pension, and basically live of the public dime.  What if you were to find out, that’s just a load of propaganda and myth telling?  Here’s five things we all thought were true about our government, but turn out to be lies:

The Government Votes On Social Security, But Doesn’t Pay Into It.
I’ve been getting this email since about the year 2000.  It usually is accompanied with a request to mail it off to all of my friends and then contact my Congressman to find out why this is.  OK, I bit.  I contacted my Congressman (John Boccieri-D OH-16) and guess what?  He pays into social security.  He’s a politician, though, so I wanted to make sure he was telling the truth: and guess what?  He was!  It turns out, Congress has been paying into the Social Security fund since 1984.

In 1983, Public Law 98-21 required Social Security coverage for federal civilian employees first hired after 1983 and closed the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) to new federal employees and members of Congress.  All incumbent members of Congress were required to be covered by Social Security, regardless of when they entered Congress.

Congress Continues To Draw The Same Pay Until The Day They Die
Wow!  With their fantastic health care plan (see below), some of these guys live forever, too.  Just look at Strom Thurmond.  I think he originally fought in the American Revolution before he died in 2003.   Luckily for us in the United States, this isn’t true, either.  The amount of money they bring in is based off of a number of factors, including time they serve in office, age they are when they retire, and when they enrolled in their retirement system.  In fact, there is a stipulation that no Congressman can get more than 80% of his salary after he retires – ever.

Congressmen Pay Nothing Into Retirement, Yet The Money They Get Comes Out Of The General Fund That We Pay Taxes Into
Where does this stuff come from and how do we continue to believe it?  Congress has the choice between two retirement plans to belong to for their pensions.  The first, the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), mentioned above, is the older one, and the newer one is the Federal Employee’s Retirement System (FERS).  From these, they pay a total of 7.5% of their annual income.


The People Are Paying Congressmen To Make Millions Of Dollars Off Of Their Retirement Funds
Follow along.  They pay into retirement funds.  Additionally, as of 2007, the average sum of money Congress was getting after they retired was $63,696/year from the old CSRS, and $36,732/year off of the new FERS plan.  Note: This is still 2-3 times the pension most people receive from similar jobs, but it isn’t in the millions of dollars that the viral emails want you to believe.

Members Of Congress Are Exempt From The Health Care Reform Bill
This is just another form of internet trickery.  The Members of Congress are not exempt from having a minimum level of health care – just like everyone else.  This includes all of the people that work for the government, as well.  So, who cares?  They already have the best healthcare on the planet, right?  Wrong again. The Health Care Bill passed in March of 2010 states that members of Congress and congressional staff ONLY have access to the plans created by the Health Care Bill or offered exchanges established by the bill:

(D) MEMBERS OF CONGRESS IN THE EXCHANGE

(i) REQUIREMENT- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, after the effective date of this subtitle, the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are–

(I) created under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act); or

(II) offered through an Exchange established under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act)

So the next time people tell you that your new health care was passed by a group of people that aren’t enrolling themselves in the bill – you tell them that the bill they are talking about is bull – Congress has to have it, too.