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The United States Capitol dome at dawn.
A very exclusive club.
I am all for taking care of widows and orphans, but it is hard to be a fan of yet another special benefit Congress reserves for itself and only itself:
[The] $1.1 trillion spending bill, would continue its tradition of compensating the family of a lawmaker who dies in office. “Tucked inside the legislation was a standard $174,000 bereavement payment to Beverly A. Young, the widow of C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.),” he noted.
The practice is bipartisan; the widow of Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg was the previous recipient. A bill to end the tradition was introduced last year by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), though it seems an uphill battle.

In national terms this is, like most congressional perks, a microscopic amount of money. But do the families of staff members get the same treatment? Does Congress grant it to any other federal employees, or only to the single collection of government employees most likely to already be millionaires? Why the constant pressure to means test Social Security, but not congressional benefits? Surely, each one of them is capable of determining their own life insurance needs without special congressional intervention?

Our national inclination should be to take care of families that have suffered hardship out of basic human decency. But we don't, and in fact how much we should even try has been the subject of frothing, increasingly bitter debate for decades now—the most recent sniffling is over whether or not Congress should help subsidize health care for their very own staff, for example, or whether all the people working for them can go to hell because Freedom. (You might think that the current Congress' notorious lack of concern for the poor is based on the usual lack of empathy, an inability to identify with the hardships of people they never meet and do not break bread with; the health care fiasco seems to indicate they cannot even identify with the hardships of the people who have to write their own press releases. There might as well be a sign, You must make exactly this much money before I will give a damn about you.)

Rep. Bill Young had been in Congress since 1971; he would have been able to plan for (both of) his family's needs for, literally, decades. Sen. Lautenberg died a multimillionaire; again, no hardships there. While Congress bickers over how much the federal government should assist hurricane victims, or should assist their own employees, or holds endless debates over whether the long-term unemployed ought to be told to go to hell, and at what dates, they never seem to have any difficulty easing their own personal hardships. It just seems a bit gauche.

Originally posted to Hunter on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 10:47 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Took a quick look at military death benefits (7+ / 0-)

    and they don't look as generous.

    Christie: "I'm going to find the real bullies!"

    by Inland on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 10:53:45 AM PST

  •  It's one year's salary (5+ / 0-)

    If I die while employed, my company would pay my wife one year of my salary.

    Of course, I'm not a millionaire member of Congress.

    As through this world I've wandered,
    I've seen lots of funny men;
    Some will rob you with a six-gun,
    Some with a fountain pen.
    -- Woody Guthrie

    by Senor Unoball on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 11:08:24 AM PST

  •  Unmitigated Greed. (0+ / 0-)

    "The first duty of a revolutionist is to get away with it.". Abbie Hoffman

    by Joes Steven on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 11:11:56 AM PST

  •  Federal Employees Can BUY Life Insurance... (3+ / 0-) pay out a year's salary (or more, with a correspondingly higher premium). I guess Young was just too destitute to do likewise.

    On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

    by stevemb on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 11:29:51 AM PST

  •  The Sign Over the Door to the Capitol Building (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    just another vet

    should say "If I don't need to know your name, go away."

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 11:55:05 AM PST

  •  It's small, but symbolic (0+ / 0-)

    And worth getting rid of in an even-handed way given that there may be members whose spouses do count on and rely upon this money -- maybe, an agreement to pay no such benefits starting January 1, 2015?

    •  That's a hard argument to make. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peregrine kate, mint julep, gfv6800

      Even the poorest members of Congress earn salaries that greatly exceed those of the vast majority of Americans.  On top of that, a significant percentage of members have considerable wealth apart from their salaries.

      So if anyone is in a position to plan for contingencies like an untimely death, it would seem to be members of Congress.  They can buy life insurance just like other federal employees, I think, and I don't see why that shouldn't be sufficient.

      One of the benefits I get as a California state employee (a benefit people are constantly calling "too generous") is the opportunity to leave a portion of my pension to a surviving spouse.  Of course, if I exercise that option, I receive a reduced pension benefit, so it's something I have to pay for.  If ordinary government workers like me can pay for such benefits, I really don't see why people who earn a great deal more than I do can't do the same.

      "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

      by FogCityJohn on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 12:55:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And all I'm suggesting ... (0+ / 0-)

        ... is give them time to put policies in place, as opposed to yanking expected benefits without warning.

        •  Would it really take 10 years (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          devtob, Aunt Pat

          to put policies in place? I have no objection to a small benefit; if Mr. Scribe dies before me, I will get a small death benefit from the union local, enough to cover funeral expenses as long as I don't get too elaborate. Nowhere near what a year's salary would be when he was working. Same benefit paid out whether still working or a retiree; it's a symbolic "passing the hat" by assessing $5 on the paycheck of each active (non-retiree) member.

          I would think if a member of Congress dies in office, it wouldn't be out of line to expect his/her colleagues to chip in a small amount to help pay for transport back home and to help cover funeral expenses.

          There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

          by Cali Scribe on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 06:14:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Mr. Scribe also had that opportunity (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        devtob, Aunt Pat, PJEvans

        when he retired (he worked for Santa Clara County as a bus driver), so I'll get 50% of his pension if he dies before me. I figure with that and whatever's left in Social Security for survivor's benefits I'll hang in there though I'll likely have to major downsize and move into a studio apartment.

        There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

        by Cali Scribe on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 06:17:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  How can a spouse rely on it? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Adam B, DMentalist

      If I understand correctly, this is only for members currently serving in office? Which means that whatever they think they can rely on may vanish every 2 years if the member loses his/her election. So if they want to ease into it, I suppose they could say "effective with the next election", anything after that is a risk anyway.

      Of course, I'm probably being foolishly idealistic. With gerrymandering, voter laziness, incumbents' advantages, etc, most of them are probably guaranteed to die of extreme old age while still in office.

  •  Wishful thinking? NT (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

    by trumpeter on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 12:58:37 PM PST

  •  You are right when you point (0+ / 0-)

    out that it is a microscopic amount of money. It is not unusual for employers to do exactly this, especially with people who make over $100K. We want people of limited means to run for Congress; we don't want to pinch pennies when it comes to reasonable things like this. I know this stems from frustration but this is really not the way to go if you want to improve the situation in Washington.

  •  I chose the wrong career (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, GypsyT, jbsoul, alice kleeman

    Wouldn't I have loved to have been able to set my own salary, my own working schedule, my own number of sick or no-show days, my own retirement and have everyone that worked for me paid for by someone other than myself while only having to work a few years to be able to retire with full pay and benefits that I had while I was working.

    If anyone ever wondered why these multi-millionaires want to be members of congress or senate, just consider what I've said above.  

    They don't even have to do a good job.  I think that is obvious as shown by the condition of our country today.

  •  No problem with this... (5+ / 0-)

    Most decent jobs I have had have as one of their benefits a life insurance policy with a value of approximately 1 year salary.  I fail to see why a job in congress (which actually is pretty hard) have worse benefits than a normal middle class job.

    I can understand the contempt for the job the current Republican run congress is doing, but if you make the job even less attractive we will probably get even worse reps.  At least in the old days we would get people who wanted to make a career of public service.  Now we just get folks who want to make contacts and then become lobbyists.

    This is a disaster for our country.

    •  we're talking about (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Skyye, alice kleeman

      people, most of who mare millionaires, some of whom are extremely wealthy. Do we really need to do this as a courtesy to people who are well paid, have excellent benefits, a good fortune before entering Congress, and who work less than six months a year?

      (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

      by PJEvans on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 08:41:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Also,... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sue B, AmazingBlaise come in handy for those subject to decisions of Obamacare death panels.

    I'm not always political, but when I am I vote Democratic. Stay Democratic, my friends. -The Most Interesting Man in the World

    by boran2 on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 06:15:47 PM PST

  •  Congressional pensions (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psnyder, GypsyT, Skyye

    are unusually generous, and many who are or will receive them have been political opponents of pensions for other public employees.

    IMHO, that's a bigger deal than the death benefit, even when one goes to Young's witchy widow.

    A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

    by devtob on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 06:24:32 PM PST

    •  It's all part of a whole. Special treatment for us (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:


      Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

      by dadadata on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 04:12:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not True (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Members of Congress participate in the same retirement program as ordinary Civil Service employees. If they entered service before 1983, it can be either the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). If after that, it is the FERS only, which is structured like a 401(k). There are no special arrangements.

      In addition, Members of Congress can participate in the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance program (FEGLI). This, above all, means there is no compelling reason, for Young to have been voted any special favor.

      "A famous person once said, 'You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.' But as I once said, "If you don't teach them to read, you can fool them whenever you like." – Max Headroom

      by midnight lurker on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 10:47:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  That brings back memories. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    It just seems a bit gauche.
    I had a Language Arts teacher in 8th grade named Mr. Guise that used that word in class a lot. Having transition from Catholic school to public school that year, I had never heard such talk from anyone. I found the word 'gauche' to be rather quaint. I was used to humiliating digs directed at me from the nuns. That, and a good whack with the yardstick. Public school was a piece of cake.

    Closed for repairs.

    by glb3 on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 06:27:39 PM PST

  •  There is a (smaller) death benefit for feds (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Like the Congressional retirement and health care system, Congress started with something that existed for most Feds, but "supersized" it to make their own special version.

    Most non-congressional Feds are eligible for the "Basic Employee Death Benefit", although they need to schedule their death properly:

    Basic Employee Death Benefit is Payable To the Current Spouse if

    - The employee who died completed at least 18 months of creditable civilian service
    - The employee who died was covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) when he/she died, and
    - The current spouse was married to the employee for at least nine months (if the death was accidental or there was a child born of your marriage to the employee, the nine month requirement does not apply).

    Of course, the widow(er) of a run-of-the-mill Fed gets a lot less money:
    Amount of Basic Employee Death Benefit

        - 50% of the employee’s final salary (average salary, if higher), plus
        - $15,000 increased by Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) cost-of-living adjustments beginning 12/1/87. For deaths on or after 12/1/07, this amount is $28,093.53.  It will be updated by future CSRS cost-of-living adjustments.

    Probably, on average, a Fed that dies while still an employee, but after 18 months on the job, will leave his/her spouse between $60-90K in this "Basic Employee Death Benefit". This is in addition to, and separate from, the term life insurance Feds can sign up for if they are willing to pay the rather hefty premiums - FEGLI (Federal Employees' Group Life) is not generally considered much of a bargin if you have other options for life insurance.

    One reason to not go after the Congressional benefit might be that the GOP would likely expand the chop to all Feds.

  •  Of all the things to be pissed about (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    John Sully, RepresentUsPlease

    that Congresscritters do, this ranks near the bottom of my list.

    Any decent employer offers a death benefit for its employees, so I can't really knock this all that much - especially when there are so many other things Congresscritters do that are far more egregious.

    I may not be happy with their job performance, but at the end of the day, I'm still their employer, and I want to treat them the way I would like to be treated when it comes to compensation matters.

    I can separate my anger for their shitty performance from the emotional appeal stuff of "They get something you don't!" type nonsense.

  •  Perhaps this is a stupid question? (4+ / 0-)

        Many upstream comments have indicated that this is no big deal, that it's not unusual for an employer to provide a life insurance policy for an employee.

         But assuming the premise that there's nothing wrong with providing for the widows of deceased members of Congress, wouldn't it be far more economical for Congress to simply to PURCHASE a life insurance policy for each of its members, rather than paying out benefits directly from the Treasury?

         Perhaps this is in fact what Congress actually does, which is why this might be a stupid question.  But as I'm reading it, it seems to me that that Congress does in fact legislate for public funds to be used to pay out benefits, rather than relying on the private insurance market.  If this is not the case, why would any special legislation be required at all?  Perhaps this is a tradition that dates back a couple of centuries to the days when there really wasn't much of a life insurance market in existence?

         I really wouldn't begrudge my taxpayer dollars being used to provide life insurance for members of Congress, or any federal employee, just as I wouldn't begrudge the use of taxpayer dollars to provide Congress members and federal employees with health insurance.  

         But it seems ridiculously wasteful for Congress to pay out the benefits directly out of the taxpayers' pockets, rather than relying on private insurance.  Seriously,  WHY?  Because it's a tradition, and they're too lazy to change it, no matter how wasteful?  Because Congress just loves the warm and tingly feeling they get when they pass legislation to pay tribute to their honored dead, even if it unnecessarily costs the taxpayers a couple hundred grand?  Or are they afraid that if Congress just behaves like a decent and responsible employer, and simply purchases life insurance for its members as a matter of course, then the rest of America might get the idea that they, too, are entitled to expect such benefits from their employers?

    •  Thats a reasonable question. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      From an actuarial standpoint, how much would it cost to buy a policy that would pay out that amount of money for 535 people?

      As I'm not an actuary, I can't answer flat out.  However, given the average age of our Congresscritters (lets face it, many of them are senior citizens and then some), and the cost of a term life policy for just one person of that age, I think we might find it works out cheaper over time to pay the benefit directly.

      But it would certainly be worth further analysis.

      •  Not if they started paying 20 years earlier. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

        by dadadata on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 04:14:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not quite following you. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Are you saying they should have started paying an insurance company 20 years ago?  That ship has obviously sailed.

          Or the same if you're proposing they should have set up their own trust fund 20 years ago to pay the benefit.  Again, that ship has sailed.

          I'm really not following what you're proposing here.

          •  Not an expert life insurance either... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

                But I think that dadadadata's point is that even if Congress members are senior citizens when they die, they are usually not senior citizens when they first enter Congress.  So the rates would be much more reasonable if each member were issued a policy upon their first inauguration.  

                 I also think there's a big difference between the rates for a group, employer-based plan, versus a plan purchased as an individual in the private market, just like there is for health insurance.  Typically an employer plan offers a flat rate for everyone, without much variation based on age or pre-existing conditions. (At least that's what I've observed from my own employer's I said, I'm no expert)

                 Granted that a few hundred members of Congress is a relatively small pool for a group rate, but if the group included Congressional staff, that would become a pool of thousands, and larger still if that group were to include ALL federal employees.  I assume that federal employees do have a payroll life insurance option just like most employees of large organizations.  Why couldn't members of Congress simply buy into the same plan?

                 Of course, one other difference is that employer-provided life insurance policies are partly financed by employee contributions.  But I see nothing wrong with allowing a small amount to be deducted from each representative's paycheck to provide life insurance for that member and his colleagues.  Rather than relying entirely on tax dollars, why can't Congress pay for at least part of their own life insurance, just like everybody else in America?

            •  That's part of what throws me off. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              They wouldn't purchase individual coverage.  I simply used individual coverage cost x 535 members as a demonstrative example.

              I suspect they'd buy some sort of group life coverage.  Point being with 535 members, at only few hundred dollars per member per year, it already costs more than the cost of doling out 1 members salary for that year as a death benefit.  And in reality - it isn't all that often members die in service and their family gets that death benefit - lets say it averages one member a year, but I suspect the long term average is less.

              Moving on:

              Rather than relying entirely on tax dollars, why can't Congress pay for at least part of their own life insurance, just like everybody else in America?
              This is dangerously close to what I would expect a right winger to argue.  That it comes from tax dollars is irrelevant - at the end of the day, they are employees of the taxpayers.  Additionally, the whole "just like everybody else in America." sentence is a strawman, because everyone else in America does not have homogenous benefits.  Many peoples employers do, in fact, offer a death benefit - the more professional the job, the more likely such a benefit is.

              So be cautious with your arguments.

              •  Since you replied, I'll take this opportunity... (0+ / 0-)

       mention something that I thought of after making my last comment:

                     I'd be willing to bet that if Congress were to announce that it were shopping for a life insurance plan for its members, the life insurance companies would be falling over themselves to provide a plan to Congress members for FREE.  Whichever life insurance company won the bid would benefit by engendering the goodwill of Congress, and likely gaining easier access to its members, in addition to the prestige of being "the Official Life Insurance Provider of the United States Congress."  The annual payouts would be a pittance compared to the typical insurance company's lobbying budget.  Not saying that this is what SHOULD be done, but just a thought...

                     As for your other dunno.  I honestly don't know how employer death benefits are typically financed, but my assumption would be that employers who provide a death benefit for employees do NOT pay the benefit out of the company's own pockets.  It would simply make more sense economically for a company to purchase a life insurance policy on the employee's behalf, with the insurance company paying out the benefit in the event of death.  If you know for a fact that companies usually DO pay such benefits out of pocket, I won't argue the point, because I just don't know...but if that's the case, it's a real head-scratcher for me.

                      Regardless of how death benefits for "more professional" employees are financed, I do know that many companies such as Wal-Mart ARE purchasing life insurance policies for their LOWER income employees.  The twist is, the COMPANIES are naming THEMSELVES as the beneficiaries, NOT the employees' families.   Talk about gauche!  But such a ghoulish practice does tend to prove that with a large enough pool of employees, buying life insurance can be not just economical, but PROFITABLE!

                     Can't say whether the math would favor buying insurance or just paying out the benefit directly for 535 members of Congress, but it seems like that argument could be used against buying life insurance for ANY federal employee.  Take an arbitrary group of 535 federal employees, and compare the price of A. buying them insurance to the price of  B. a year's salary if one of them dies.  If A. is more than B., don't buy the insurance.  Presumably, the math does favor buying insurance when people are grouped into a larger pool, or else the whole concept of life insurance is one big fraud.  

                     In an upstream comment, dark lurker points out that Congress members have access to the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Program.  I'd bet that MOST members of Congress have purchased insurance through that program, and probably for a higher benefit than one year's salary.  So that's money coming out of the Treasury for BOTH the employer portion of FEGLI, and an ADDITIONAL death benefit.  Eliminating the redundancy and tweaking FEGLI to guarantee a minimum benefit for all members who pass away while in office seems quite likely to reduce the overall cost.  But even if it doesn't, there's one more thing to consider: money that's paid into a federal employee insurance program creates more wealth, which comes back to benefit ALL the federal employees in the program.  The money in an exclusively legislated death benefit is just GONE.  So even if it does cost more, the insurance might be a better investment.  

                    I stand behind the assertion "like everybody else in America."  While not everyone has homogenous  benefits, it is fair to say that MOST Americans DO pay something for their life insurance, even the professionals who receive additional death benefits.  In an environment where Congress insists on imposing austerity and slashing benefits for federal employees and constituents, why can't they set an example by imposing some austerity on themselves?  Taking a tiny pay cut to provide for their fellow members' widows out of their own salaries instead of passing it on to the taxpayers would be a nice gesture.  Contributing a bit more to the federal life insurance program to benefit the widows and families of ALL federal employees, instead of just looking out for themselves, would also be a nice gesture.   And yes, it would make Congress seem a bit less like an aristocracy with exclusive perks, and a bit more "like everybody else in America."

                     In any case, a very interesting discussion.  Thanks for the stimulating exchange of ideas!


                •  Interesting. (0+ / 0-)

                  I can see your point that insurance companies would be lining up to provide the coverage for free - but could they?  That seems like it would break some sort of ethical rule.  It seems kinda similar like when Congresscritters and others get those really low-cost mortgage loans that some of them have been busted for in the past.

                  As far as it making sense to purchase coverage for the entire Federal workforce versus just the Congressional cohort, I think the issue lies in the actuarial questions involved.  Federal workers are almost always employed for decades. Many Congresscritters are not.  Basically, the way I look at it is this:  What is cheaper for us as taxpayers to provide this benefit?  The cost of purchasing insurance or self-insuring to pay the benefit?  Clearly, if Congresscritters were dropping like flies every year, purchasing insurance would be more cost effective.  However, since that isn't happening and it isn't all that often that a sitting Congresscritter dies, it just seems on the surface that self-insuring is cheaper.  Obviously, that takes a risk - say 20 of them are all on the same plane when the plane goes down.  To get to the real answer or which would actually be more cost effective, I think it takes actuarial skills beyond my ability - and at the end of the day, total cost to the taxpayers is my concern.

                  I'm aware Walmart and other employers buy policies on employees with the company as the beneficiary.  Its despicable - obviously, they wouldn't do such a thing unless it was making them a profit, and the idea that they are making a profit off of the deaths of some of their employees is just plain disgusting - especially with how little they pay their employees in the first place.

                  Moving Congresscritters solely into the main plan all other Federal employees are in obviously merits discussion for multiple reasons - I can agree with that for sure.  Especially with Republicans playing the "fiscal conservative" card - and additionally the "they get something you don't" card when talking about rank-and-file government employees - they should be discussion putting the tax dollars where their mouths are.  Absolutely.  However, I also recognize that the Congressional death benefit goes back as a tradition as far as the 1800's if not farther back, and at the end of the day, of the numerous things Congress does that pisses me off, giving a death benefit to a sitting Congresscritter simply doesn't rank all that high on my list.

                  Finally, I wouldn't be so quick to stand by the strawman statement you originally made.  In-service death benefits are far more common than you seem to be aware, and in many cases, no, they don't cost the employee anything.  For example, many employees with pension plans have an in-service death benefit that costs them nothing additional - and depending upon who's statistics you're looking at - 20% - 25% of the working population still has pensions.  My pension plan contains such a benefit that pays out not 1, but 3 years salary - totally covered by the pension plan without an additional dime from me.  However, this leads to a topic I think for an entirely new diary - how as pension plans have dried up, many Americans have lost so much more than simply retirement security due to the secondary benefits pension plans tended to provide.  So again - this is why I caution against "they get something I don't" type arguments  it leads to a bucket of crabs mentality where the idea is to tear down everyone else - not try to gain back the security Americans used to have - or better yet - gain an even bigger piece of the pie still than even mid-century Americans had.  Even using such arguments against Congresscritters leads to a slippery slope in my opinion, where we all argue over everyone elses compensation instead of worrying about fighting to raise our own.

            •  Yep. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

              by dadadata on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 06:07:23 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  "It just seems a bit gauche" Only a bit? If we... (0+ / 0-)

    had a 'real' media it would be showing how members of congress are two faced and self interested.

    What came first the subjugation of the media or the government?

    Its like the chicken or the egg...

    The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function [Albert A. Bartlett]

    by fToRrEeEsSt on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 07:41:01 PM PST

  •  Not sure if there's a staff historian (0+ / 0-)

    on DK, but would be extraordinarily interesting is an article on the history of Congressional compensation.

  •  Is it me? (0+ / 0-)

    Or can anyone find a source for a total yearly figure for how much we (taxpayers) can afford for all the elected officials who are receiving retirement benefits?

    i find tons of links to what each one gets but not how much is going out each year?

    I love the thought of paying poor old cheney each year and perhaps some SS... Don't you?

    So Glad we the people employers could agree to pay for these wealthy valued citizen servants even beyond their passing.

    How much is Boehner worth? Oh and Issa, as example. I look so forward to perhaps taking some more food stamps or unemployment or using CPI to reduce the outrageous expenditure for the non valued so that I may participate in funding the valued more deserving.

    Ok emotion registered but... still. How many people can go to their companies and TELL the employer what amount they will give them in retirement? It's the concept of it all.

    Please if anyone can find a total figure what we the taxpayer could afford in the way of retirement pay outs for any recent year, please provide a link?


  •  Now I can't recall what SS pays (0+ / 0-)

    for death benefits. $750 comes to mind, and that actually probably did pay for cremation. I got to wait until I turned 60 to get some high fraction of his SS payments as a widow, and then some payout sheet from SS about when was the right time to start taking my own SS benefits and not his. It is all in a file that I can peruse another day.

    Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Great Gatsby

    by riverlover on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 04:25:38 AM PST

  •  What's that? (0+ / 0-)

    Did I just read some oblique praise of Jim Cooper?  But I thought Blue Dogs were the most horrible creature that God ever invented!!!1!11!!1!

  •  of course this benefit (0+ / 0-)

    is bipartisan, the dems, gop and 1% are in this together we the 99% are just collateral damage they use as a means to an end.

    save america defeat all republicans and conservatives

  •  Like they need another (0+ / 0-)


    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. Frank Zappa

    by Da Rock on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 05:18:40 PM PST

  •  I don't know about the USA, but my job (0+ / 0-)

    included a minimal life insurance policy. Not enough to make anyone rich, just enough to pay for a funeral and tide my widow over for 12 months. If I get cremated in a cardboard box, that is.

    I don't think this is a big deal although it might be a bit generous compared to mine, it might be about right compared to their annual salary. While they might make more, most people know that spending tends to increase to match ones salary. Bigger house, nicer cars, nicer toys.

    Is it a payment or is it a life insurance policy? If the former it might be cheaper to get insurance. Considering most of their ages, it might not.

    I know people don't like these guys, but I think this is a fairly standard benefit for state and federal employees.

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