American Morning

Tune in at 6am Eastern for all the news you need to start your day.
February 24th, 2010
01:00 PM ET

Broken Government: Congressional pension plans

Many Americans are wondering how they will ever retire in this recession. But, members of Congress don't have that problem. They'll be collecting fat pensions at your expense.

As part of our week long series "Broken Government," we're taking a hard look at the congressional pension system. And the fix – Congress would have to cut their own benefits. Our Lisa Sylvester has the report.

Filed under: Broken Government • Politics
soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. jrowland

    This will be buried – thats ok.....I wonder what this next generation would be like if we invested twice as much in what we are underpaying the teachers in this country – maybe be able to attract alot more really good – talented folks that we are not getting today – I mean we turn over our children to these folks for 8 hours a day – OUR CHILDREN for God's sake ...........I cannot think of a better investment for the future .........of course that money is probably be better and more efficiently spent in producing weapons (we are the largest supplier in the world) or better spent in health care (we do have the most expensive care) I just wonder what if would mean to those children to try and really get them best opporutunity by hiring some of the best and brightest to teach them. We do get some of those types now – but not nearly enough to make a difference. Course if you don't have a youngin or two that would not make any sense to you anyway.

    March 8, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
  2. steve

    This is crazy but my son's elementary school gym teacher makes 98k a year..yes I said gym teacher. There are many other teachers in our district and others in NY state making over 100k and they are making a killing on their pensions for working 10 months a year. The entitlement culture of this country is pathetic. In private industry we can't vote for a COLA. My 401k match went away like many others last year but the congressmen, school teachers and other public sector union jobs are making a killing. In NY state the legislature votes on the amount of interest they pay in pensions. Are you kidding me?? The normal people lost 30-40% last year and we are funding pensions and annuities for others who are receiving 8.5% average for the last however many years?? Check out this website to see how good our state workers including teachers do.

    March 7, 2010 at 12:08 am |
  3. jrowland

    Let's see Tony D – you get up a 4:30 am 6 out of 7 days a week – walk 21/2 miles in the pre-dawn (regardless of the weather) to catch the closest commuter because your car insurance premiums went unpaid last month -ride for over an hour thinking about the breakfest you did not eat because the baby would want to eat when it woke – clock in and head down to the "pit" and put on a fire suit – pick up a 70 pound water hose and start spraying under a 170 foot tall extractor that has recently been converted to wood chips from fuel oil (the changes in construction never getting in the way of production)- each time you sweep with the water the ashes come flowing out in a stream of fire-y hot liquid that rises to a level above the top of your boot and seeps in leaving small blisters to contend with – because the $55,000 per year engineer fresh out of college just did not see it comming when he laid out his schematics. You do this for 9 hours with 2 -15 – minute breaks and a half hour (no food) lunch – never mind the 130 plus degree temp your workin' in and never enough time to fully hydrade. Can't slow down cause you heard that the company is down-sizing – can't seem to keep up with the competion otherwise because of the cheap labor overseas that somehow keeps sending their product in to this country for less each year – guess your $8.35 and hour is breaking the company so they can no longer offer that insurance and 401 k they promised when you started out 4 years ago. Well by God at least its a job – Well – gotta get off now and run another mile and 3/4 to catch the commute home – case I miss the hot dog and bowl of beans with cool aide mom and the baby are having for dinner. Maybe catch a Wizzards game on the radio tonight – cable has been off for over a year now – need to tell the boss that I will be in tommarrow afternoon though because the baby needs to get up to the health clinic – been coffin' all night and the wife has been feelin to ill herself to take the baby up there – hope the boss will understand and not dock my pay like he did the last time. Things are getting better – politicians keep saying it so it must be true. Maybe next year I will start looking for something different for some more money – or the 8 p to 1 a shift down at the local burger place will open up again – something will come up – you know it – maybe should have stayed in the Army for another stint but just could not deal with all the killin' I saw the the last time – still keeps me from sleepin' -maybe if some of those congress fella's sons and daughters were over there maybe some of that would stop and I could go back in and not worry about havin' to dodge bullets instead of just pullin' some guard duty up on the eastern boders in Europe ...... well they will get all that straigtened out soon and start bringing some of my buddies home..................its goes on and on Tony D .............. all across America – so while you keep contributing you 100 dollars to your favorite candidtate to be sent back up there to spend somebody else's money (in hopes that maybe there will be something there for them) with out ever reading about what he spending it on........I am going to try and vote him out .........and I hope the rest of America joins in to vote him (or her regardless of party) out of his $174,000 per year job to fly around the world at our expence meeting with "world leaders and shakers" – you know the drill well that you so aptly described................get a life man .............and a heart ............. care about the future of this country ...... help take it back from your friends in office.

    March 2, 2010 at 1:28 am |
  4. jrowland

    Here's a good idea...
    For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that Congress members could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they didn't pay into Social Security, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest is to exempt themselves from the Healthcare Reform that is being considered in all of its forms. Somehow, that doesn't seem logical. We do not have an elite that is above the law. I truly don't care if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever. The self-serving must stop. This is a good way to do that.. It is an idea whose time has come .

    This is one proposal that really should be passed around.

    Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution

    "Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States ."

    March 1, 2010 at 3:24 pm |
  5. Tony D

    So let's see. You're offered a job where you have to raise millions of dollars to spend on a campaign to get the job. You have to leave you're family and current job to go around your district and try to convince people to elect you. If successful, you now get to need two residences, one in your home area and another in Washington, DC. You need to hire a staff. You will get all sorts of grief from constituents, lobbyist, religious groups, environmentalist, politicians, ethnic groups, racially oriented groups, animal lovers, hunters, gays, straights, and just about every organization in the world. For this you get $174,000 per year. You will also get scorned and libeled by many. You will be called a thief, crook, scumbag, and other names that cannot be published. No matter what you do, there will be those who disagree. Meanwhile, if you want to keep the job, you have to raise millions to pay for your next campaign. Applications are open to every American. Anyone interested??

    March 1, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
  6. Tony D

    CNN should be ashamed of themselves for posting such a bit of misinformation. Why didn't they spell out the facts about the congressional pension system? Because it wouldn't get people peezed off if they told all the facts. Congressmen pay into a pension system and Social Security just like everyone else. They pay 7.5% just like everyone. They must be in office at least 5 years before they are vested. They can retire at age 50 with 20 YEARS OF SERVICE or age 62 with 25 YEARS OF SERVICE. They have to be in office 40 years to get the maximum 80% pension. They also have a 401K program that they can contribute to. They pay 40% of their health care premium. Not all that generous. They do not retain health care if they are not in office long enough to retire. They get paid $174,000 per year. Most Superintendents of School in NJ get paid more. There are 413 retired Congressmen. 290 have an average pension of $61K and 123 have an average pension of 36K. Hardly considered excessive benefits. They'd be better off as school teachers.

    March 1, 2010 at 2:03 pm |
  7. whocares

    so what is the problem? they have to survive too it isnt their fault they were elected to office by a bunch of fools that fell for the lies and keep falling for them over and over again that isnt their responsibility. geeze cant a man make a decent dollar anymore off the back of another man?

    what do you think politicians do it for ? the better of the country?

    keep falling for that and you keep putting them in office i saw one simple and clean comment on this subject and believe it was tina


    March 1, 2010 at 1:50 pm |
  8. Matt

    After looking at some of the posts on here, I think there are some that are missing the point. It doesn't matter the party affiliation, or where the person is from. The bottom line is this: I'll look at you suffer and make a grand speech about how America is suffering. As soon as the speech is over and I'm out of the limelight that I had helped schedule, it's back to what we (Congress) is doing for ourselves. How can we make it easier for us to survive on the backs of the American public? Name ONE career in the WORLD where you can retire after a few terms and draw a paycheck? The military takes 20 years, the average civilian takes 25 – 30. is this fair? NO IT ISN'T. Pres. Regan had a good slogan in his presidency for drugs: JUST SAY NO! Now is the time as Americans we go to the polls to show how serious we are about change, and are tired of the same old doubletalk that we've been getting. This is greater than civil rights, health care reform, and social security becuase they money that is taken from those programs are more than likely going to some Congressmans state in pork or in some cases in their own pockets or re-election bids. America it's time we really got our heads out of our third points of contacts and make a stand that benefits all of us; black, white, or whatever you are. Pres. Regan said it best; JUST SAY NO!!

    March 1, 2010 at 12:59 pm |
  9. Blair T

    We Americans have been brainwashed into believing that all taxes are evil, all goverment spending is wastefull, our elected representatives are corrupt and only our group is honerable. I believe that we are sheep and we have been brainwashed into 3 polarized groups: Selfrightous, hateing Democrats; Hateing Republicans and Superior fealing Independants. All wrap themselves in the American flag and accuse the "OTHERS" of treason, which is punishable by death.

    My test of patriotism is (1)Have you served your country or did you avoid service and (2) Do you pay your taxes or do you cheat. There should be a draft and all men and women, NO EXEMPTIONS, should be required to give 2 years of service to qualify to vote in an American election. And tax cheaters and the profesional advisors who sell a service that helps cheaters cheat should be labled as unloyal americans who are shurking their patriotic duty of supporting America. Tax cheaters are scum.

    If all your political conversations are negative and if you truely hate another American for disagreeing, you are a brainwashed ass and should be banned from listening to talk radio for 3 months. By the way, did you know that talk radio is the leading cause of Adult Mental Retardation and "calling in" accelerates the process.

    March 1, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
  10. Chuck Long Island

    Term limits are a good start, however we could use a lot more cures for what ails us. A line item veto would go a long way to stop some of the pork. There is no need to have funding to study cow belching attached to a bill for transportation or what ever. There should also be an easier way for the people to get legislation. There should be a way we the people can have national referendums voted on by the people during the election. We can do that here in New York with petition drives. We need a certian amount of the registered voters in a certian area to sign a petition and after meeting the requirements, the proposal is placed on the ballot for the public to vote on. We can't rely on our elected officials to do what we feel is needed especiallly if it is going to impact them in some way. This would give some of the power back to the people

    March 1, 2010 at 11:15 am |
  11. John

    Thomas Jefferson said, "A little rebellion now and again is a good thing." Sean Connery as Captain Ramius in "Hunt for Red October", said, "A little revolution now and again is a good thing."

    Either way, it is time. The government "of the People, for the People" is broken.

    It is time for a change, we don't need armed revolt, we need to through out those who misuse their office and those who profit from the misuse of office by those who elected. We need to quite listening to those who have their own agendas. We need to remake the country the way our country tries to remake other countries. Make it illegal for those presently in Congress to ever hold political office again. Have trials of those who have profited while the people they were elected to help suffered. Those found guilty should be punished by the taking of any wealth that can be attributed to their malfeasance.

    March 1, 2010 at 11:14 am |
  12. Neville


    Please elaborate on your interpretation of Impeachment originating as
    "charged by the people, or Congress, or both"

    March 1, 2010 at 9:57 am |
  13. js

    The only way to solve our problems is to VOTE. If everyone would just vote for someone who represents the interest of the the people, all these problems will be solved.

    And by the way, if everyone voted, I think our representative in the Senate and Congress will be in for a real shock!

    March 1, 2010 at 8:32 am |
  14. Gus sanchez

    ,,, I tired of this ,,, it's only money ,,,

    March 1, 2010 at 8:18 am |
  15. S

    The People can do something; never vote in an incumbent. Then a Constitutional Convention should be the next thing on the docket. Recent Supreme Court Decisions are proving they are in the pocket of big business also.

    Vote, and vote these crooks out.

    March 1, 2010 at 7:35 am |
  16. jrowland

    As long as we keep sending the same people to our capitals we will keep getting these kind of results. It is our country's greatest state of political insanity (by definition). Benjamin Franklin said that (para-phrasing) the US Constitution would be the second greatest document ever written behind the Scriptures – but that ultimately it would fail because of the the corruptness of the people (politicians) – and when the people become totally corrupt we will turn to despots – because only despots can govern the corrupt. Thats one of the arguments he used to get term limits written into the Constitution. "Despot" is just an ugly word used to describe someone who will not listen. Atlanta – Tallahassee – Washington, DC – corrupt? Who was George Bush listening to – who is Obama listening to? Our politicians have now negated term limits thru campaign finance laws – and the fact that it now cost $30 mil to put someone in the house – $60 mil to put em' in the senate – and half a billion to buy the White House. Once they get in they do not believe we will or can vote them out of office. If you want to take back this government then you have to START VOTING AGAINST THE INCUMBENTS. If we vote them out – enforce the term limits – the folks we send back up there may not be any better than the one they replaced – but at least they will fear the vote – and the vote is all you've got. SAVE OUR NATION – VOTE AGAINST THE INCUMBENT REGARDLESS OF WHAT PARTY THEY REPRESENT (at least the say they represent). Your children and your grand children are counting on you – after all your voting habits is how we got here in the first place........

    March 1, 2010 at 1:59 am |
  17. Neville

    To: kent @ February 25th, 2010 7:12 am ET

    You are wrong about the TSP. It did not replace the old Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or newer Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). It is an additional option. Participants in these plans pay into them (and pay into Social Security as well). The big difference is that CSRS and FERS are defined-benefit plans, which have all but gone away in the private sector as companies cut back on retirement benefits and put employees into 401(k) defined-contribution plans. See the TSP info page at for the full description of how TSP works and a lot of info on how CSRS/FERS work.

    Now, about this whole uproar about congressional retirement amounts. They are no different than other Federal employees (Senators ought to be considered employees of their states, but that's a different discussion). However, congressional reps give up jobs or businesses, have to give up control of certain assets, and are subjected to not just incredible public scrutiny but often unwarranted scathing broad-brush accusations that are totally unfair. We need more Average Joes in the Congress. Without generous inducements, we would probably not get many people to consider leaving their profession for a non-guaranteed new position. You should think about what it would take for you to step up for a job like theirs, before you start bad-mouthing them.

    February 28, 2010 at 10:33 pm |
  18. poor person

    Eliminate lobbyists eliminate corporate and PAC spending for campaigns. Public fiance elections by population each candidate gets the same amount in a district. Throwing the bumps out does no good. Do you honestly think the new bunch is going to be any better. They are bought off on the first day they show up. The only way to fix it is to ask the candidate if he is willing to kick out all lobbyists. If the answer is yes, and he does nothing then he is short lived.

    February 28, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  19. Larry

    I am stunned. Just so,like, shicked, ya know what I mean? Corruption in our government? No freaking way! So let me take a few minutes to complain and talk about how "evil" those "others" are and then I can, say, run down to the store and buy something, anything, and not even know or care where or by whom or under what conditions it was made and then I can come back on here and talk some more about how innocent I am and how wrong all you "others" are. Pensions to politicians are by far are greatest problem. How about all those millions and millions and millions and millions of American consumers who make a choice to support outsourcing and greater and greater levels of imports and then blame those "evil" global companies from selling you the products we all choose to buy.

    February 28, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
  20. Larry

    We the people should vote on congressional salaries,. But how would citizens be able to get a constitutional amendment ? We the people need to come up with a way to have a no confidence vote and throw the bums out as the parlimentary system does. Federalism seems to favor the rich. We need a true democracy. I just hope for my grand kid's sake we don't need a revolution to get it.

    February 28, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  21. Joe

    Time to have a new revolution as this system is so broken at all levels. Just look at how it handles the massive debt we all are paying for forever on. No cut backs to speak of in the government, no reduced wages of 10% or 15% to start to turn this around and all the crap that just goes on. I am so mad and discouraged at this point I can't type anymore. I used to think a revolution was impossible (Peaceful or not) but I think we are only a spark away from making this happen. Look at the crap going on with Wall St. and bonuses for failed entities. Nothing makes sense anymore.

    Anybody agree it is too far gone to save????

    February 28, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  22. J Rowland

    The only solution is to vote against the incumbant regardless of the party and enforce term limits – these folks do not beleive you will vote them out of office. If we vote all the incumbants out – the ones we send back up there may not be any better but at least they will fear the vote. Benjamin Franklin said (para-phrased) "the constitution will be the second great document ever written behind the Scriptures – but that it will eventually fail because of the curruptness of the people (politicians) and when the people become totally corrupt – we will turn to despots because only despots can govern the corrupt." That is the argument he used to get term limits into the constitution. A despot is just an ugly word for someone who will not listen. Washington – Atlanta – Tallahassee – corrupt? Who did George Bush listen to – who is Obama listening to?

    February 28, 2010 at 8:15 am |
  23. mvray

    Real simple to somewhat fix the system. People need to quit voting along party lines. Vote the person(s) out of office if they're not doing their job. Two terms are plenty enough time to be in Congress. People in general shouldn't complain about what is going on when they don't vote. No vote quit your whinning.

    February 28, 2010 at 2:17 am |
  24. tkharpr1

    Why not have representatives chosen by lottery (all registered voters eligible exclusive of convicted felons, etc.) and then there would be no vesting of interests

    February 27, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  25. dockwobbler

    Search '2010 Congressional Calendar' and take a look at how many days Congress is off each year...

    We need to cut their pay to match their time and performance...or how about just cutting their pay scale by about 40%, which is what the Big Corporate Business interests have been doing to the average wage scale for manufacturing and general labor in this country...supported by both Democratic and Republican controlled administrations and congresses.

    Then we should make them pay for THEIR OWN medical coverage (paid for life) and revoke their pensions (also paid for life). Let them live off a no match 401K or BS IRA, and cut down Social Security...the same as all of us. We also need to take insurance and pensions away from criminal senators who continue to receive them after being released from prison.

    Our forefathers would never have allowed these golden gimmie congressional benefits to be put in place!!! These bums need to come down to Earth and live in the REAL WORLD with the rest of us.

    February 27, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  26. schelin

    Government is broken and the only way to fix it is to force all of the self-servient Alpha-Hotels out of office and by Citizens Voting to Introduce a new A NEW AMENDMENT (the 28th ) that would limit their terms in office to only two (2) consecutive terms and then they must leave and then noot be eligible to run for office for four (4) years. No pension or health plans would be included as they would have to rely on what is available just like the public has too, after all it is a privilige to serve in an office that represents the people ( taxpayers ) and the people should not have the burden of paying for their benefits......

    This truly falls under " CHANGE "

    February 27, 2010 at 1:55 pm |
  27. Stevie E.

    In a book I'm reading about great prophets and prophecies, there is a passage attributed to Abraham Lincoln, who was definitely a GREAT prophet; a deep thinking, soulful, mindful, passionate man. Would that it were that we would be so blessed to have a man of his calibre in office today, preferably as President.
    In a letter he penned to Col. William Elkins in November 1864, 3 1/2 yrs after the Civil War began:
    "I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned, and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war".

    Tell me that history does not repeat itself?

    February 27, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
  28. Joe

    Like most news today, this story is deliberately misleading. The actual truth, or facts, never seem to matter. It would take very little effort for anyone to research and ascertain that the pension system for Members of Congress is nothing like the wild and absurd comments one often reads or hears.

    February 27, 2010 at 10:14 am |
  29. Henry

    "we the people", what are we waiting for?

    “We the people” don’t need to wait for the next election to get rid of dishonest politicians. According to the US Constitution “we the people” can bring impeachable charges for Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.against all civil Officers of the United States, including the President and Vice President. Article II of the United States Constitution (Section 4) states that "The President, Vice President, and all other civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment or charged by the people, or Congress, or both, and followed by a majority vote of the U.S. House of Representatives, and then convicted by a two-thirds vote of the Senate.The House of Representatives has the sole power of impeaching, while the United States Senate has the sole power to try all impeachments. The removal of impeached officials is automatic upon conviction in the Senate.

    February 27, 2010 at 12:18 am |
  30. Larry

    Jeff-you are correct. I am a retired Federal employee and the members of Congress are treated almost exactly like me. I retired under CSRS and I receive a pension based on my years of service and average highest 3 salaries. I have health insurance, but I pay for it-just like they do. To get 80% of the high 3, you would have to work about 42 years.

    February 26, 2010 at 11:14 pm |
  31. Mike

    Not only the pension plans but also their health care. Try comparing that to what normal people get.

    February 26, 2010 at 9:43 pm |
  32. RanMan

    Hmmm where was the outrage when they were passing this "retirement plan" for themselves???? Wasnt it under Clintons watch when they created this LOTTO payment for life for themselves??? And wasnt it attached to another Bill that had nothing to do with it. Just sneak/ ram it on through just like they are doing again now.. Curses to all liberals who think we should be forced to pay for things that people are too lazy to earn for themselves.

    February 26, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  33. b4grit

    Why have politicians become like this.? They are killing democracy.

    February 26, 2010 at 9:11 am |
  34. Jeff

    This piece is misleading and inaccurate. Members of congress are covered by the same pension system as other federal employees. The following is from "": "According to the Congressional Research Service, 413 retired Members of Congress were receiving federal pensions based fully or in part on their congressional service as of Oct. 1, 2006. Of this number, 290 had retired under CSRS and were receiving an average annual pension of $60,972. A total of 123 Members had retired with service under both CSRS and FERS or with service under FERS only. Their average annual pension was $35,952 in 2006." Federal employees can also draw something like 80% of their pay; HOWEVER, this is after 40 years of service, plus they (and members of congress) DO contribute to their pensions.

    February 26, 2010 at 5:35 am |
  35. William in Daytona Beach, FL

    Who said: Crime does not pay! Those who hold political office for many of us represent the epitome of criminal behavior. Campaign contributions and special treatment equal to bribery. Campaign promises equal to lies. Control over ones own pay and retirement plan at others expence equals self dealing. Betrayal to the working class letting jobs leave the country leading to the downfall of the economy equals to treason. No one is in trouble for our financial situation and errogance by the GOP pointing fingers at democrats as if nothing happened on their watch as they push the agenda of NO. We never got an apology for weapons of mass distruction only that it was the right thing to do. I thought that with the election of Obama we woke up! We did the right thing! Apparently not so says the GOP Obama is a one term President! From what I see personally I like John McCain and Barack Obama and the economy under both would be just as bad. Between us you and I: "Yes We Can!" must be our cry. America was always Can Do! No, is not an option No equals stand still Now is not the time to stand still but to fight with peaceful action!
    Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King made their point by peaceful means. We need to get Obama's Attention write to him for a National telethon a think tank towards recovery. What would he have to do to get your support. Remember some remarks by Rush L hoping for Obama's failure. Well if you want to end the power struggle if you want Obama to lead the get behind him. One person can't do it all. The healthcare bill was a molehill turned into a mountain. Democrats as well as Republicans need to be dismissed from Washington D.C. Frankly it is hard to know who the Good guy's are! When Scott Brown got elected in Kennedy's old spot I said Wow! The GOP Boasted but when Brown made a decision on his own he was declared a turncoat. In today's times I see him as a heroe. If you look at the Republican party of Lincoln they did what Government was all about Protecting the United States. Read the PreAmble to the Constitution. Our Government is about protection of the People not for monitary gains of a few. Small Government is about the reduction of that power to protect this same reduction favors the Wealthy. To privatize something means that someone is out to make a profit. As a society we must do some things not for a profit but for a better life for all. Greed is a one way street. Too few have wealth too few have power not only do the House and Senate have both they are friends with the very people who have us all slaves to debt!

    February 25, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
  36. Chuck

    Here are the "rules" for gvt pension:

    February 25, 2010 at 9:05 pm |
  37. Richard


    I believe that Congressmen receive their pension after 5 years of service. My point is that any elected officials should not receive a pension or medical benifits after leaving office...Period. Except for the President. Congressmen should be limited to a maximum of 12 years (total House and Senate. State governments should also limit political service. This way these politicians can take their experience back to the community they came from and work to make their commuities better. People are praising congressmen/women who have served the majority of their lives in Congress. Saying what a great person they were. When in fact they are the people who got us into this mess. I appreciate those who have served honorably, however, please limit your time in office, go home and serve your local community. It's time for "We the People" to stand up and get petitions to eliminate their benefits after they leave office, and demand term limits!

    February 25, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
  38. Steve

    Yet many want to cut defense spending...lets look at places like this as well.

    February 25, 2010 at 3:11 pm |
  39. jerry

    Our government is controlled by "the rich" (how do you think they get elected in the first place", why do you expect them to benefit the majority middle class. Do you really and honestly expect them to take money out of their own pockets. When the elected officials get a pension, insurance etc... for the rest of their lives do you really expect them to change that. Would You? When they bailed out their buddies at the car companies look at all the money they wasted. Why not give every person in the country enough money to buy a brand new car, including sales tax and license. That would benefit every person, state and local government and the car companies not to mention safety on the road. Why do they continue to bail out the banks and the "brain trust" that have all the money. If the mismanaged their business before isnt it likely they will do it again when all they have to do is cry to congress and they generously give them OUR TAX MONEY. Plus why has the Obama admin set aside like $6 billion dollars to give to the IRS next year so they can continue to harass people for undo and outrageous tax fees? Isnt that why we had the revolutionary war to break away from unfair British taxes?

    February 25, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
  40. dan

    the rep and dem there is no difference both are crooked both try to stop the other they make too much and dont do what anybody but themselves want look at the list of criminal acts by each party we would have to put congress and the house to minimum wage they expect everyone to be able to live on it they get enough perks make there own pay raises
    remove every one in washington and start over

    February 25, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  41. Tony

    Excuse me while I sit back and laugh at all of you! You gripe and complain about the govt officials and who was it that voted these thieves in office in the first place? Odd how its always the same two parties that are causing the problems! I know, its never YOUR party that is part of the problem, right? Yet you idiots keep voting them in office. Keep voting them in and letting them rape your wallets! Keep complaining and do nothing about it. Thats the American way! You people are truly funny. Believe me, the politicians you vote in are laughing at you too.... as they keep their fat pensions, and under the table "perks", while you suffer and fight to make ends meet. I know I am offending some of you idiots, but the truth hurts, doesnt it? Who's really to blame here? WHO voted them in office?
    Here's the real kicker....If the Dems are voted out....will the Reps repeal any taxes...repeal any uneccesary fees/service charges we pay? Lower taxes? Improve funding to the military/education/social security/medicare? ANY of these? Of couse not! Once they've shoved these things down our throats, they're never repealed. We're stuck with them for life! Ever notice that? Or are you too busy griping and pointing fingers, rather than doing something about it?
    You got exactly what you all deserve....a two party monopoly!
    Live with it and suffer! Live the rest of your miserable lives griping and complaining while the politicians laugh all the way to the bank with YOUR money in THIER pockets!

    February 25, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  42. Nancy

    Until Congress is cleared out and replaced with people who have ethics and a conscience, we're stuck paying for the jerks.

    Can someone with clout tell me exactly WHY each and every bill that is introduced by ANY politician always includes pork? Can you tell me WHY we can't have a bill that is JUST about ONE who the heck cares any more. I'm waiting for them to mow me down because I'm beyond my prime and no longer worth feeding in their minds....even though I work and feed myself. These men and women don't even know how to talk decently to one another, how could they possibly have the spirit of love for their fellow man/womankind?

    February 25, 2010 at 9:41 am |
  43. John

    This has been going on forever. B4 these people become politicians, it should be mandatory they serve 25 years in the military so they can receive 50% of that pension. That should be their retirement. The people needs to put term limits on these crooked former lawyers. The politicians are not out risking their lives for our country. They are robbing it. Their pay needs to be equal to what they received in the miltary per year while in office. No politician should have this job for their lifetime. Term limits. Did you hear me? No more lawyers, vote in retired military and TERM LIMITS!!!

    February 25, 2010 at 9:32 am |
  44. William

    Good questions to Dr. Gupta!
    Here's another:
    Why aren't prescription eyeglasses covered by most insurance plans?
    I have been wearing eyeglasses since I was in the second grade. Without them I would not be able to work or drive. I would have difficulty just getting around on my own.
    I suppose if I wanted to give those things up, I could look to the government to support me as a person with disabilities.

    February 25, 2010 at 9:08 am |
  45. kent

    Your article is a little misleading. During the reagan administration in the 1980's the federal workers including congress stopped getting pensions. Congress and the federal workers have had since 1982 a 401 k plan called the TSP which is similiar to what most employers provide for their employees. The older congressman have a pension but anyone hired or elected after 1982 does not get a pension. Also congress and the federal workers pay a 32% premium for their health care. I continue to hear people say they want what congress has, well they have a contributory 401k plan and pay 32% of their health care premium. I think that is what most employers provide for their employees. I am not defending congress but the pension and health care benefits are not broken compared to most state governments which still provide pensions and free or low cost health benefits.

    February 25, 2010 at 7:12 am |
  46. Henry

    Americans owe it to their children, grandchildren, and future generations by forgetting all about party loyalties, and by firing all Democraps and Repugnacrats, for the simple fact that they are all one and the same. These deceivers are nothing more than corporate harlots, spreading their legs to the highest bidders, and also they are fleecing the people as well through exorbitant taxation. These Washington Congressional parasites they give themselves pay raises at will, and also they have the best Health-Care coverage, and the best Pension Fund in the world, depending on the years served it can range approximately between $ 125,500 to $ 58,900 per year, plus S/S benefits as well. But these same shameless bipartisan fat cats have the effrontery to deny a miserly S/S Cost Of Living Allowance to the elderly, to those that worked all their lives building up America.

    February 25, 2010 at 1:55 am |
  47. Terry Brookman

    They claim to be servants to the people so why do they need a pension plan better than anyone else on the planet except royalty. Most if not all of them are multi-millionaires to begin with anyway. We need to limit their terms to four years and no perks when they finish. I have never had a job where you played like you were working for a few years and then retired or quit and still got half pay and full bennies for life as well as your wife. This entire system is broken and broke! The truth is they serve their true masters, the multi national corporations and care nothing about we the people. Revolution by the people for the people is what is needed right now.Rope and tar I know where to get perhaps Bill Clinton could get Tyson Chicken to give up some feathers, after all they do owe him, or is that own him?

    February 25, 2010 at 1:48 am |
  48. Dennis Pence

    Come on people – It's the "Golden Rule" – He who has the gold makes the rules. We muat admit – they have the gold – and if they don't, they will raise taxes to make sure they do.. MONEY IS NOT the root of all evil. Often misquoted, the Bible says "The love for money is the root of all kinds of evil. Money is not evil if it is used properly. The same Bible that says this also says "the laborer is worth of his hire and the apostle Paul said you work or you don't eat. We tend to quote (more often misquote) the scriptures when they justify our points of view. This country has lost its "moral compass" and that starts with our leaders (or so called leaders). They continue to preach "separation of Church and State" and search as I amight, I cannot find that in the Bill of Rights or the Constitution. Even if it did exist, it does not say "Separaton of God and Country". They want to emphasize that Jefferson wanted the "separation of church and state (they take what he penned totally out of context), but fail to quote his views on the governmnet relating to Banking, Defense and other things he was passionate about. Seems like he mentioned something about a "Central Bank" issuing and controlling our currencey was of more danger to us that them controlling a "Standing Army". But – I guess if any of them were smart enough to study (or even know) what was in our Constitution or Bill of Rights- they might understand how and why our founding fathers intended this government and this country to operate – Government of the people, by the people and for the people" – meaning US Citizens – not illegals, not an elite establishment – but US born, God fearing, America loving citizens.

    February 25, 2010 at 12:19 am |
  49. Evelyn Pacheco

    Upon election to office, politicians must be made to prove that they are up to par with all laws that they will be sworn to protect. Their retirement benefits should be equal to those of federal or state retirees with similiar earnings and years of service. Change must begin from within if elected officials are to regain respect. Their obligation is to provide for the greater good of the electorate........not those who lobby hardest.

    February 24, 2010 at 8:50 pm |
  50. Danny

    Money is not the problem. There is nothing wrong with money and it in itself is not evil. The evil comes from a broken political system with little real regulation to combat it. This is in part our fault as we do not demand its cleansing which is our right as Americans. The problem is also the type of people we are electing and what their real goals are and reasons for being in politics in the first place. Serving should be more like a preacher where they are given a home and a stipend and they are not allowed relationships with corporations as their duty is to serve America and its people. Another part of the problem is the rampant greed and corruption with many of the larger corporations who being global think they are above our laws now. These are the things we as Americans need to demand be fixed. Money by itself is not to blame. We need to look around us and to each other and realize what really is important to our society and to us individually. And that is our peace our happiness our health our welfare and our children and their futures. Corporations nor politicians either one are providing or ensuring any of these in their present state.

    February 24, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
  51. Jeff Frye

    I was reading a book that my son Nathan purchased and came across some very profound writing of an ancient swordsman from Japan that I would like to share with you. The name of the book is "Book of Five Rings" written by Miyamoto Musashi, and translated by Thomas Cleary. The passage is from "The Book of Family Traditions of the Art of War" written by Yagyu Munenori. I hope that you meditate on these words written long ago. I feel that they pretty much sum up the current condition of our government. Please take heed in the following pasage. I hope that you will find a place in a future speech for these words of wisdom. I quote.

    "When a country is pacified, the consideration given to the selection of officials and the security of the nation is also a martial art. When officials pursue personal interest and thus oppress the common people, this above all is the beginning of the end for a nation. To observe the situation carefully, planning is such a way as to avoid letting the state perish through the self-seeking of officials, is like watching an opponent in a duel to see his move before he makes it. Should one not observe with utmost attention? This is what makes martial art a matter of such great potential.
    Also surrounding rulers, there are treacherous people who pretend to be righteous when in the presence of superiors yet have a glare in their eyes when they look at subordinates. Unless these people are bribed, they present the good as bad, so the innocent suffer and the guilty gloat. To see the potential for this happening is even more urgent than to notice a concealed scheme.
    The country is the rulers country, the people are the ruler's people. Those who serve the ruler personally are subjects of the ruler just as are those who serve at a remove. How far apart is there distance? They are like the hands and feet in the service of the ruler. Are the feet any different from the hands just because they are further away? Since they both feel pain and itch the same, which can be called nearer, which farther away?
    Therefore people will resent even an honest ruler if those close to the ruler bleed those far away and cause the innocent to suffer.
    There are only a few people close to a ruler, perhaps five or ten. The majority of people are remote from rulers. When many people resent their ruler they will express their feelings. Now, when those close to the ruler have all along been after their own interests, and not acting in consideration of the ruler, and therefore serve in such a way that the people resent the ruler, when the time comes, those close to the ruler will be the first to set upon him.
    This is the doing of those close to the ruler, not the personal fault of the ruler. It is desirable that the potential for such situations be clearly perceived and that those distant from the ruler ship not be excluded from its benefits."

    February 24, 2010 at 7:45 pm |
  52. Tina


    February 24, 2010 at 7:19 pm |
  53. Scott

    CNN thanks for the report. These people are the most disgusting and greedy Americans there are. Equally at fault are the mental midget Americans that re-elect incumbents.

    February 24, 2010 at 7:14 pm |
  54. frogtwanger

    The fact that huge pensions are paid while Americans lose homes and healthcare should surprise no one. Right now blue dog dem's and republicans want to delay any real reform as long as possible. They are bought and paid for by their corporate masters and they don't care how many suffer and die. Nice work supporting these guys Tbaggers!

    February 24, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
  55. Kevin Oswald

    Yes they get a pension, they also receive a salary and health insurance for life, regardless of how many days or years they are in office. They receive this benfit and still they are in the pockets of special interest. I wish CNN would give more air time to the Liberal Party. It is my opinion things will not improve until we vote the current people out of office. Yes government is broken!!! Keep up the good work CNN; keep the pressure on we have got to have help!!!

    February 24, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
  56. Jim Thompson

    As usual the working guy gets the shaft and the politicians get the gold mine.

    February 24, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
  57. Tara

    I was listening to CNN in the car this morning, specifically this piece on Broken Government, when my four year asked me innocently, "Mom, how did our government break and who's going to fix it?" Isn't that just a loaded question...

    February 24, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
  58. joe

    Republicans keep saying their doing what Americans want, like opposing health care reform. But they’re doing opposite of what the American people want. Just take a survey every time they say that, and truth will be known. The American people don’t have the Republican views. They mostly have Independent views and want them to work together with the Democrats to get problems solved.

    February 24, 2010 at 2:24 pm |
  59. hceel

    Most politicians receive under-the-table money from big corporations to pass laws to help their business even if it hurts America. The nation would be aghast if they knew the truth and scope of money laundering in the government. Power is money, money is power it goes hand-in-hand. Money, the root of all evil. If we could delete money, problem solved. As much as I like money, I know the consequences of worshiping the almighty dollar. When we make to big a profit, then it becomes our god and clouds our prerogative. We have to work together for mankind or USA will undoubtedly fail. United we stand, Divided we fall.

    February 24, 2010 at 1:49 pm |