US Capitol 2

US Capital (Photo: Abeeeer/flickr)

I been seeing a lot of “Don’t Vote” diaries, lately, and in a recent one, it was implied that Congress critters who get fired (in the sense I defined it – dumping them via the ballot box) just go on and start collecting a pension. See how that works? You can’t really hurt them, or scare them, so why bother trying?

Not so (typically). In fact, one way to make sure that your lousy D/R Congress critter not only stops collecting 174K/year, at taxpayer expense, but also NEVER collects a pension for his/her Congressional ‘service’, is to dump the clown after their first or second term.

Regarding a Congress critter’s pension:

Members of Congress are not eligible for a pension until they reach the age of 50, but only if they’ve completed 20 years of service. Members are eligible at any age after completing 25 years of service or after they reach the age of 62. Please also note that Members of Congress have to serve at least 5 years to even receive a pension.



According to the Congressional Research Service, 413 retired Members of Congress were receiving federal pensions based fully or in part on their congressional service as of Oct. 1, 2006. Of this number, 290 had retired under CSRS and were receiving an average annual pension of $60,972. A total of 123 Members had retired with service under both CSRS and FERS or with service under FERS only. Their average annual pension was $35,952 in 2006.

So, firing (in the sense that I have defined it) a member of the House of Representatives, after a single term, means that they would NEVER get a pension, even if they waited until they were 62 years old.

Even the higher average retirement figure I quote – 60K – is far below 173 K.

In short, the idea that credibly threatening to terminate the career of a Congress critter is wrong-headed because they will then get a pension is ludicrous.

But you’re happy to just let these same clowns get re-elected, decade after decade, such that they WILL be entitled to a pension??

If your clown Congress critter is already entitled to a pension, well, boo hoo. Would you rather have somebody in a position of power, making 174K/year to betray you, or that same person making 60K/year, and not in a postion of power? Is this really hard to figure out?

Besides throwing the bum out, and cutting his/her government pay to less than half, or more, of what they were previously making, the public learning to flex it’s political, electoral muscles is a social good whose value can’t be expressed well in dollars and cents.

None of this concerns the “don’t vote” crowd, which is part of the reason I can’t take them seriously, or at face value.