A group of conservative congressmen have found a new target in the fight against wasteful government spending: their own pensions. As the Washington Times reports, six Republicans in the House have proposed a bill called the End Pensions in Congress (EPIC) Act which would require future members of the House and Senate, and current members not yet vested in Congress’ retirement scheme, to save for their golden years themselves rather than relying “on taxpayers to take care of them,” as one of the bill’s co-sponsors, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, puts it.
The bill’s author, Rep. Ron DeSantis of Florida, calls congressional pensions “an inappropriate use of taxpayer money, especially when the idea of a pension in the private sector is fast becoming a relic from a bygone era.” Rep. DeSantis, like his co-sponsor Rep. Massie, has declined a pension and thinks his colleagues should be compelled to do the same in order to bring Congress back into line with the nation’s roots. “The Founding Fathers envisioned elected officials as part of a servant class, yet Washington has evolved into a ruling-class culture.”
Presently, the Times writes, “lawmakers are eligible for a pension at the age of 62 if they’ve completed at least five years of service, or at age 50 if they have completed 20 years of service, or at any age after completing 25 years of service.” Pensions are capped at 80 percent of a member’s final salary. That adds up to at least $25 million annually in congressional retirement benefits, which Rep. Massie sees as an opportunity for the legislative branch to show the country how belt-tightening is done. “To tackle out-of-control federal spending,” Massie told the Times, “Congress must lead by example.”