Friday, August 19, 2011

Congressional Smoke and Mirrors Part 1 of 5 (Social Security)

We got the wind knocked out of us during the last fiasco with Congress.  We had better get our wind back, if we are going to clear the smoke so we can see what is really going on.  There seems to be numerous smoke and mirror tricks coming directly from our Congress that has been overwhelming to the ordinary citizen.  In fact, there have been so many tricks, sleight of hand and toe tapping that one would need to be a master magician to keep up.  Based on the circulation of emails and blog posts, inquiring minds have a serious question this week:  “What type of social security benefits do members of Congress receive?” 
Right before Congress went on vacation they left us with a scary thought.  Our social security benefits may never be the same again when they get back and start the number crunching.  The speculation started a firestorm of forwarded e-mails about Congress not paying into or being eligible for social security; therefore, they could care less because they have something even better.  Well, half of this story is true and like most things floating around, it is to raise the hairs on the back of our necks.  It is those half truths that confuse many people and there will be more forthcoming from all directions.  Now don’t get it twisted, there is a problem here but it is not about Congress paying into social security.

It seems before 1984, Congress did not pay into social security or receive any benefits from it, just like all other civil service employees.  That was 27 years ago and that clarifies the half truth.  But, things did change and members of Congress started paying the same percentage of pay that we all pay into social security.  The real issue shouldn’t be about whether they pay; but, what other benefits they have created that protects them in their old age but leaves the rest of us exposed?  To learn more go to

It is those other retirement plans they have as options.  It is the employer contribution percentage that we as the employer do not get to authorize.  It is the different age and time requirements to receive benefits not quite similar to the rest of us.  It is all the perks that we may never know.  By far, they have the best of both worlds which should upset us the most during these budget crunches.  Not only do they have more but, they get to decide who has less. 

The mirrors of deception should now be clear.  Probably to most members of Congress, their social security checks will be the least of their income concern, unlike the rest of us.  If everything is supposed to be on the table let’s make sure everything is on the table.  Let’s ask Congress to ensure they consider reduction in their retirement plans, employer contribution and other benefits unknown to most of us.

Don’t let the smoke and mirrors confuse you.  We better start getting our facts straight if we plan to make a mass assault of emails, phone calls, faxes and visits to our representative’s office in the near future.  Again, let’s ask them to represent our interest and not theirs?  Are we asking the impossible?

Stay tuned for Smoke and Mirrors Parts 2-5 that will address the elderly, children, military, small business, etc.