Capitol Hill Full of Pension Allies; Retirement Plans Becoming Rare

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 20, 2007 | Go to article overview
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Capitol Hill Full of Pension Allies; Retirement Plans Becoming Rare


Byline: Mike Causey, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Do you favor term limits for members of Congress?

If you are a federal worker or retiree, you may want to think through that one carefully. The longer House and Senate members serve, the more likely they are to retire on a government pension.

Traditional pension plans are disappearing fast. Some analysts predict that in 20 years the only people left in the country with a defined benefit pension plan will be federal workers, and maybe some lucky state government employees.

A couple of reasons explain why retirement plans covering white-collar workers, blue-collar employees, foreign service staffers and other feds will last when others disappear.

Consider the clients of the federal retirement program. They include everyone from the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, to former presidents and the widows of former presidents, as well as current members of the House and Senate and their families.

Congress isn't about to let the federal retirement program go away because most members of Congress will draw those lifetime indexed-to-inflation benefits.

There also is the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association. NARFE has been described as a giant legal-lobbying organization with one client (the retired or wannabe retired fed) and one goal (protect the pension plan).

It has done pretty well so far. Despite annual threats to trim the cost of the federal retirement program, the only major change made in modern times boosted rather than cut pensions. That was when Congress authorized a formula that calculates federal retirement benefits based on the employee's length of service and highest three-year average salary.

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