Group Blasts Lawmakers' Pensions but Many Ex-Congressmen Say They Have Earned It

By Fred W. Lindecke Missouri Political Correspondent | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), February 14, 1995 | Go to article overview

Group Blasts Lawmakers' Pensions but Many Ex-Congressmen Say They Have Earned It


Fred W. Lindecke Missouri Political Correspondent, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


The National Taxpayers Union Foundation has criticized congressional pensions as excessive, but most retired members of Congress from the St. Louis area believe they earned their pensions.

Only two agree that congressional pensions should be reduced. They are former Reps. Paul Findley, R-Pittsfield, Ill., who lost in 1982 to Rep. Richard J. Durbin, D-Springfield, and George Shipley, D-Olney, Ill., who retired in 1978 and became a fisherman in the Florida Keys.

Former Sen. John C. Danforth, R-Mo., who just retired with a pension of $53,000 a year, said congressional pensions should be reduced - but only as part of a general tightening of federal entitlements.

None of the St. Louis area pensioners is drawing the kind of money that has attracted negative attention. The lead lightning rod is former House Speaker Thomas S. Foley, D-Wash., who gets about $124,000 a year since his defeat last year after 32 years in the House.

An exception in the St. Louis area is former Rep. William L. Hungate, D-Troy, Mo., who is collecting a federal pension of $143,000. He gets $125,000 of that as a former federal judge.

Former Sen. Alan Dixon, D-Ill., expressed the viewpoint of most former congressmen here when he said: "I paid in my share, I earned them, and I draw them." He gets about $64,000 a year in federal and state pensions. More Than Private Pensions? Or Less?

The amount each former congressman draws is a private matter. A spokeswoman for the federal Office of Personnel Management said privacy laws cover the pensions of all federal employees.

But when asked how much pension they were receiving, former House members from eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois, as well as former senators from both states, provided the information.

Former Sen. Charles Percy, R-Ill., 75, runs a Washington consulting firm that helps U.S. companies export goods and services.

He said he has read stories about how high congressional pensions are, and he would like to know how the pensions of more recent retirees got to be so much higher than his own.

"Who do you talk to about these things?" he asked. He had 18 years in the Senate when Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., defeated him in 1984. Percy said he'd withhold judgment on congressional pensions until he could compare them to the private sector.

The National Taxpayers Union Foundation has done just that. David Keating, the foundation's president, said congressional pensions "are typically two to three times more generous than those in the private sector and even more generous than pensions for federal workers."

Cost-of-living adjustments and the 1991 congressional pay increase, to $133,600 a year for senators and representatives, have driven up pension benefits, Keating said.

Their pensions are figured on 2.5 percent of the average of the three highest years of salary, multiplied by the number of years of service. Congressmen contribute up to 8 percent of their salary to their pension, but this covers only about 20 percent of the cost, Keating said.

The Civil Service Retirement System, which includes congressional pensions, has an unfunded liability of more than $500 billion that taxpayers must pay, Keating said. Move To Cut Pensions

Two members of Congress have bills pending that would reduce congressional pensions by bringing them in line with those in private industry. The sponsors are Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev., and Rep. Dan Miller, R-Fla.

The National Taxpayer Union Foundation estimates that St. Louis area congressmen would receive the following annual pensions if they retired now:

Richard A. Gephardt, D-south St. Louis County, $56,000; William L. Clay, D-St. Louis, $78,000; Harold L. Volkmer, D-Hannibal, $60,000, and Simon, $73,000.

Findley, 73, writes books and articles and lives in Jacksonville, Ill. He called congressional pensions "absurdly high.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Group Blasts Lawmakers' Pensions but Many Ex-Congressmen Say They Have Earned It
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.