DENVER – U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) introduced legislation Wednesday that seeks to put an end to the defined benefit pension plan enjoyed by former Members of Congress. The third term Republican was joined in the bipartisan effort by Rep. Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat.
“I continue to believe that during these challenging economic times Congress must be willing to share in the sacrifice required by all Americans and lead by example,” said Coffman. “Congress needs to set an example for the country and I believe that ending our pension plan would be a good start.”
Coffman’s proposal comes in the wake of a 2012 report indicating that one in six retired Members of Congress were pulling down six figure annual pensions.
“Two retired lawmakers earned annuities of more than $200,000, until one died this year,” The Federal Times reported in November. “In all, at the beginning of 2012, four retired lawmakers earned pensions that were greater than the $174,000 salary that senators and representatives earn.”
The publicly funded pensions have become increasingly unpopular with the public. According to one recent poll, six in ten likely voters want to see an end to the lucrative retirement payments to former legislators.
In addition to qualifying for the generous defined benefit pension plan, Members of Congress can participate in a 401k-style defined contribution program called the Federal Thrift Savings Plan.
“Our nation’s financial house is a mess. It makes no sense for congress to continue to reward itself, using taxpayer dollars, with a defined benefit plan when the much of the country has moved to a defined contribution plan like a 401K,” said Coffman. “We need to end this perk.”
“Members of Congress shouldn’t get pensions in perpetuity at a time when American families are struggling and the nation’s deficit is far too high,” added Polis.
According to a press release issued by Coffman’s office, the legislation would prohibit current or future members from receiving any credits for additional years of service but would honor any retirement benefits already accrued.