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This Must Be A Campaign Issue
In 2004

We must be asking the wrong questions during election years. Our senators and congressional representatives do not pay into Social Security. Many years ago they voted in their own benefit plan. In more recent years, no one in congress has felt the need to change it. Their plan works like this:

When they retire, they continue to draw the same pay until they die, except it may increase from time to time for cost of living adjustments (most retirees go for years and years without a cost of living adjustment, if ever). For example, former Senator Byrd and Congressman White and their wives may expect to draw $7.8 million, with their wives drawing $275,000 during the last years of their lives. This is calculated on an average life span for each.

Their cost for this excellent plan is ZERO. This little perk they voted for themselves is free to them. You and I pick up the tab. The funds for this fine retirement plan come directly from the General Fund – our tax dollars at work! From our own Social Security Plan, which you and I pay (or have paid) into – every payday until we retire (which amount is matched by our employer) – we can expect to get an average of $1,000 per month after retirement. In other words, we would have to collect our average of $1,000 monthly benefits for 68 years and one month to equal Senator Bill Bradley’s benefits!

Social Security could be very good if only one small change were made. That change would be to jerk the Golden Fleece Retirement Plan from congress. Put them into the Social Security plan with the rest of us and then watch how fast they would fix it.

Corporate Greed, Mismanagement and
An Uncaring Congress

Reports about potential fallout from shortfalls in retire pension funds have compounded retiree fear that their best-laid plans for a secure retirement are evaporating in a mist of corporate greed, mismanagement and an uncaring Congress.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) requires companies to keep pensions funded and guarantees that retirees receive the same pension benefit they were eligible for the day they retired. However, a provision for health care benefits was removed before ERISA was passed in 1974.

For a number of years there has been a gradual, almost impercepible erosion of health care benefits. Corporations
 increase co-payments, provide fewer benefits, and reduce post-retirement benefits while forecasting increased Medical expenses. Whether companies or its retirees absorb the increasing cost, or whether it will be shared, is still unclear. However, it is becoming clear to retirees that without legislative protection, the burden will increasingly fall on them.

The Emergency Retiree Health Benefits Protection Act (HR-1322) – an amendment to ERISA designed to do for health care what ERISA did for pensions – was introduced to Congress by John Tierney, D-Mass., prior to this past election. But the new Republican majority in both congressional houses will make it nearly impossible to pass. Not one Republican has co-sponsored this bill.

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