Monday, September 10, 2012

About that Congressional Reform Act

It's bullshit.

 Lately, some of my more conservative and non-political friends have been circulating this silly amendment proposal.

It has been around since at least 2009 and pops up again every few months. Some versions include term limits and the claim that kids of congresscritters don't have to pay back their student loans. The lat one I received had a prologue about how the 26th amendment was passed in just a few months and how, if you just sent it twenty of your friends, it will be law before the next election. The latest version says Warren Buffet proposed it. Warren Bufet did not propose it. I'm not sure where it came from, but it's made up of a mish-mash of misconceptions, outdated information, and just plain weirdness.
  1. "No tenure" What does that mean? Congress doesn't have tenure. We can vote them out at any time, but we need to take responsibility for our own votes and do it if we don't like what they are doing. Democracy belongs to those who show up.
  2. Congressional pay ends when the job ends, just like any job.
  3. Members of Congress do pay into Social Security. They have since 1984.
  4. Repeat. They do participate in Social Security. Just like everyone else (except the very rich).
  5. Congress participates in the same retirement program that other federal employees do. It's based on a formula of years served and pay grade. There is no special fund.
  6. According to the 27th Amendment, Congress cannot vote itself a raise. What it can do is vote the next congress a raise. If we don't like it, we have the responsibility to let them know our disapproval, either by voting them out or by deluging them with letters, petitions, and phone calls. Since the 27th Amendment was pased, Congress has voted raises roughly once evry four years.
  7. As with their retirement program, Congress participates in the same program as other civil servants. They don't have a special program of their own and they do have to pay into the program.
  8. Congress does have to abide by the laws they pass. Some version say they are specifically immune to sexual harrassment laws. They are not. Do you think that Congress could pass a bill saying rape or murder is a crime unless one of us does it? Of course not. And if they tried they would be laughed out of the Supreme Court.
  9. This line is in every version of this that I have seen, and I have no idea what the original author had in mind here. Does this mean that members of Congress can't buy a house or car or get married? Those are all contracts.
98% of you won't forward this. You suck.

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