There are a lot of misconceptions about Congressional benefits. There are no “Cadillac programs.” While members of Congress are in office, we pay into Social Security and contribute to our pensions through a payroll tax. We are able to draw Social Security on the same time table as every other American, and while a member could elect to receive his or her pension benefit earlier, the amount he or she would be able to draw on would be small. For example, a former member of Congress drawing a pension benefit after five years of federal service must be over age 62 and would receive 8.5 percent of their salary.
I believe legislative benefits, including my own salary, should also be on the table. I have consistently opposed pay increases and salary adjustments, including cost of living adjustments (COLA), for senators and representatives. The most recent scheduled salary adjustment was prohibited from taking place by Public Law 111-165, enacted on May 24, 2010. Additionally, Public Law 11-332, which was enacted on Dec. 22, 2010, froze salaries for members of Congress through 2012. Should such legislation come before the Senate for consideration, I will carefully consider it along with your comments.
The point is well taken, however. All Americans, regardless of their position in life, should be treated the same by the law. No one is above the law. For example, I participate in the same retirement program that all federal workers are eligible for, and that means I contribute part of my salary to my pension¬ – just like everyone else. Prior to 1984, U.S. senators had a choice of retirement plans, but none of the present Wyoming delegation had a choice. I have always insisted that Social Security be withheld from any paycheck I have ever gotten. As a contributor to and future recipient of Social Security, I am bound by all of the federal regulations governing contributions and benefit limits.
I have been working to make sure that the laws Congress pass apply equally to senators, representatives and all your elected officials. I voted against the health care law, but voted to ensure that if it passed, members of Congress would have the same health care from an exchange as everyone else. Member of Congress’ health insurance coverage is similar to employers that offer multiple health plans for employees. I actually have a Blue Cross plan that isn’t quite as good as the Blue Cross plan I had before I came to Congress.
I am here to serve Wyoming and responding to letters, emails and phone calls is one of the most important aspects of my job. The best way to contact me is through the webform on my webpage enzi.senate.gov. This enables me to more efficiently answer Wyoming residents’ questions. If I didn’t then my email would quickly fill up with spam. If you would rather not send a message to me that way, you should feel free to call my Washington, D.C., or Jackson offices, 1-888-250-1879, or 307-739-9507. Please also feel free to contact Reagen Green (Reagen_Green@enzi.senate.gov) in my Jackson office. She will be certain that I see any email you send and will ensure that it does not end up in a spam filter.
Thank you for contacting me with your thoughts. I rely on the ideas and suggestions from the people of Wyoming.
Michael B. Enzi,
For the complete article see the 11-06-2012 issue.
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