Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Convicted congressmen collect public pensions
The voice was unmistakable: Gruff, raspy, Rosty. And from his greeting, I knew this would be a story.

"Congressman Rostenkowski" is how the former chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means committee answered his cell phone. Not "ex-con Rostenkowski," not "Mr. Rostenkowski," not even "Hey, I've been pardoned by Bill Clinton, Rostenkowski".

Nope, it's "Congressman."

And with good reason. Congress is still paying the chairman. According to the National Taxpayers Union, an organization that advocates for lower taxes, Rosty is making $126,000 a year from his federal pension. Not bad for a guy that went to prison after being indicted on 17 counts of, among other charges, embezzling public funds.

Now those same public funds pay Rosty. And the National Taxpayers Union is sick of it. The union sent a letter to the new leaders in congress. This letter was signed by a couple of dozen watchdog groups, from the left and the right to the middle, and it asked, in effect, why are we paying the pensions of congressional felons?

According to the Taxpayers Union research, 20 lawmakers over the last 25 years have been found guilty of serious crimes while in office. All 20 received, or are still receiving, congressional retirement benefits.

Randall "Duke" Cunningham and James Traficant are both in prison right now, and both collecting. "Duke" gets an estimated $64,000 a year. Traficant's estimated pension is $40,000.

The National Taxpayers Union is pushing Congress to stop this by adding simple provision to the law: If you are convicted of a serious crime while in Congress, you lose the taxpayer-funded portion of your congressional pension.

I wanted to ask Congressman Rostenkowski what he thought about this, so I got his cell phone number from a friend and called him. That's when he answered, "Congressman Rostenkowski." But the senior statesman apparently picks and chooses his topics these days carefully.

"What benefit is it to me?" he asked, before denying my request for an interview. For an ex-con who's getting an estimated 126,000 benefits a year from taxpayers, keeping quiet makes a whole lot of cents!
Posted By Drew Griffin, CNN Correspondent: 2:18 PM ET
  110 Comments
Hi Drew,
I really don't care if you're a Republican, Democrat, or Other. I think you should lose the loose change of a pension when you break the law. Period. Return their checks to sender. Take Care.
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 2:52 PM ET
The con's quote, "What benefit is it to me?" seems to be the name of the game in the Oval Office as well. Hope the Dems can rein in the White House so that the U.S. doesn't go completely down the toilet in the next two years.
Posted By Anonymous Gypsy, an American in Mexico : 2:55 PM ET
We will all see if this makes it into Pelosi's first 100 hours...it probably won't because it will make too many of her friends mad.
Posted By Anonymous Brant, Madison, Wisconsin : 2:55 PM ET
Why is it we the tax payers are still paying this convicted ex-con a pension? Isn't this a fine example of how the poor keep getting poorer and the rich still staying rich.
Even after 17 counts of what? Exactly.
There should be laws much like there is in the military where pensions are lost when conditions of poor character are proven. Another fine example of Civilian leadership abusing their oath of power. US going down the crapper.
Posted By Anonymous Hb, Pensacola Fl. : 2:58 PM ET
Where's the petition!! Sign me up!!
Posted By Anonymous Barb Kozlowski, Phoenix AZ : 3:26 PM ET
I enjoyed your article and thought it was right on the money! I think congressmen and senators receive too much pension as it is. But to receive it after being convicted? Shameful.
Posted By Anonymous J Bennett, Livingston, Montana : 3:27 PM ET
I am a firm believer, the best job in the world is U.S. Congressman.
It just doesn't get any better than this. You vote youselves raises, cost of living increases, recieev benefits while in prison and once released. Oh! by the way, only the wealthy are in congress.
They are the only ones who can afford to run for office. Average Joe American has to work for a living. If he takes off work to run for office, he looses his / her job.
It doesn't get any better than this.
Another example of the rich getting richer.
"The fleecing of America " as Lou Dobbs would say
Posted By Anonymous Marion Sylvester, Indpls. IN. : 3:29 PM ET
How disgracful is that? We have military veterans that have risked their lives and given many years of honorable service to this country that don't receive that much pension. In some cases even with diasability added it is not that much. Something is seriousl wrong with the system.
Posted By Anonymous MRj, knoxville tn : 3:30 PM ET
While we are on the subject of bilking money from the taxpayers...lets cut out any monies for ANY Public official convicted of a crime ALLTOGETHER. It's about time the people who pay them , had a say in who GETS IT! The idea that these officials get that kind of money FOR LIFE is absurd. They have a free ride while they are in office, hardly do any work, get seperate health packages and their kids SOME HOW skip serving in ANY armed forces...who wouldn't want a deal like that. All this plus a free lunch while they sit in washington.

I bet if you assked the American people right now if they wanted LIMITEd TERMS..you would get a yes by a landslide. The public is sick of the abuse and consistent, blatent misuse of power. Leadership trickles down from the top...no wonder we are such deep ____...ah well, you fill in the blank!
Posted By Anonymous Charles gregory, los angeles, CA : 3:30 PM ET
This doesn't surprise since Congressmen and lawmakers will do whatever it takes to protect their pocketbooks. We should all realize that when they get into office it is not about representing the people anymore. It is about what can I do to line my own pockets and get re-elected. It should be a no-brainer that a convicted felon can't get taxpayer funded pension money any more... but not with out Congress. It's a disgrace.
Posted By Anonymous scott, nashville, tn : 3:30 PM ET
If I knew I could keep my monthly pension and not have to pay for my jail cell and food, then jail might not be bad. I could invest my money and come out a millionaire after a few years in jail. Not a bad deal
Posted By Anonymous Erlangen Germany : 3:30 PM ET
Sad...
Posted By Anonymous Brad, Crestview Florida : 3:30 PM ET
Sickening but not surprising.
Posted By Anonymous Kimberly, Greensboro NC : 3:31 PM ET
Only in America.......only in america would we be dumb enough to give criminals money for being bad....nice job if you can get it.
Posted By Anonymous Liz Evans City, PA : 3:33 PM ET
I agree and you should send out a petition so we can sign it and send it to congress. The same laws for all! Thanks
Posted By Anonymous Rose, Poughkeepsie,NY : 3:35 PM ET
Yet another travesty courtesy of the federal government. Rostenkowski and his fellow convicts should never have received pensions to begin with. They scammed their salaries while they were in offfice doing essentially nothing and now they collect pensions for doing even less. American politics is a cesspool filled with sewer rats. Rostenkowski and rest are just the ones who got caught.
Posted By Anonymous A. Roy Olson, Tucson AZ : 3:37 PM ET
The State of Missouri overwhelmingly passed this same issue on the November Election. Terminating the pension for any convicted State Government Officials. This is common sense and if Congress does not stop these then Republican or Democrat they are all just plain greedy.
Posted By Anonymous Chris, Kansas City, Missouri : 3:39 PM ET
Post Dan's cell nemuber. Let the taxpaying public ask him some questions.
Posted By Anonymous Al, Chicago, IL : 3:41 PM ET
This goes to the heart of the problem in America. If you are white and in the upper class you are rewarded for your crimes. I am white and I'm appalled by the way these people get away with crimes the rest of us would pay dearly for. A pension while doing prison time? Wait for the true criminals to figure this one out. Oh wait, I guess they already have.
Posted By Anonymous Steve, Virginia City NV : 3:42 PM ET
I swear by Allah that this sort of things happening in our great nation will ultimately bring about it downfall. Croonyism. Enver Khorasanee
Posted By Anonymous Enver Brampton Ontario : 3:42 PM ET
I'll go one better. Election to public office is a position of trust. I would favor a law that instituted mandatory life in prison or the death penalty for violating the trust of 10's or 100's of thousands and even millions of constituents. The EPA and other federal and state agencies can implement fines per occurrence. A public official who is corrupt and cheats untold numbers of trusting Americans should be held to the same standard. Each and every citizen he/she represented when he/she broke the law should be considered a separate violation. Maybe if being elected to office stops being its own pork barrel and the criminals are punished severely enough, we might stop getting bankrupted by thieves and attain the kind of moral representation we expect and deserve.
Posted By Anonymous Russ Godwin Bountiful, Utah : 3:43 PM ET
Forty years ago a young man goes to Vietnam to serve his country. Twenty years ago he kills two people and goes to prison for life. He dies in prison, his remains creamated and he is buried in Arlington Cemetary. A year later, his remains are dug up and removed from Arlington because he is a convicted felon. Now, Congressmen who commit crimes go to prison and still are allowed to draw their pensions. ONLY IN AMERICA!!
Posted By Anonymous Dennis Allmendinger, Rosamond, CA : 3:44 PM ET
What a scam and you wonder why we have such a deficit. Without this reporting we would never know and they´┐Żll continue to milk the cow.
Posted By Anonymous Neit, East Orange, NJ : 3:45 PM ET
This is unf*&%^$#ing believeable. Is there not one decent congressman who would stand up and get this changed yesterday. This is sickening and absurd.
Posted By Anonymous Bart, Louisville, KY : 3:46 PM ET
And I thought crime didn't pay. It obvisously pays for these felons.
Posted By Anonymous Juan P Moore, Arlington, VA : 3:47 PM ET
Here here, Drew. But to expect Congress to enact a law that might reduce their already swelled benefits/retirement packages, even if they are convicted of felonies is like trying to build a snowman on the surface of the sun! Good Luck with that!!!
Posted By Anonymous Jeff Holmgaard, Rockford, IL : 3:47 PM ET
Convicted felons should not continue to get benefits or salaries!
Posted By Anonymous Wendy, Houston, Texas : 3:47 PM ET
I found this story really sad, but interesting!

Thanks!
Posted By Anonymous natawijaja,lasvegas.nv. : 3:49 PM ET
Funny is'nt it? Big business owns congress, and therefore should pay for the pensions, not the taxpayers.
Posted By Anonymous Callahan, Lansing MI : 3:50 PM ET
Typical! The rich get richer the poor get poorer, by paying these felons w/ our tax money. Not only do they go to a country club like prison but get paid when they're there, more than the average citizen. God Bless America!
Posted By Anonymous David, Houston TX : 3:51 PM ET
How can our lawmakers get away with it? After faithfully serving my country in the service for 28 years and numerous personal awards and an Honorable Discharge, if I am convicted of a felony, I loose my pension. These people were caught while serving their country and are collecting our tax dollars as pension. This is so very wrong!!
Posted By Anonymous Jack, Sutton, WV : 3:52 PM ET
As a second-year law student, it always disappoints me to hear of such abuses of power. Obviously, Rostenkowski and others in similar circumstances shouldn't be receiving taxpayer-funded pensions. Perhaps the bigger and more difficult question is how to prevent these types of things from happening in the first place. I think what America needs is a way of stressing the importance of personal ethical decision-making and growth in addition to the importance of intellectual and financial growth. This ethical system needs to be free from any specific religious context. If Americans cannot figure out a way to make ethical decisions, we needn't worry, our children as well as our Congressman can just turn on the television and get their values from the Sopranos, Sex and the City, Nip-Tuck or from the evening news reporting on the latest governmental scandal.
Posted By Anonymous Paul Schmitt, Amherst, Massachusetts : 3:54 PM ET
i am outraged..how does a private citizen best protest this most flagrant abuse of public funds???
Posted By Anonymous p scott ocean ridge fl : 3:55 PM ET
This is unreal. A dirtball felon, who betrayed the people who elected him, is making 126,000.00 of our hard earned money. My wife had to quit her job due to a medical condition, so I've been considering a second job to make ends meet, and this piece of garbage is raking in 126 grand, despite his crimes. And don't get me started on the steaming pile of dung who pardoned him...
I am absolutely livid over this. And the jailbird politicians mentioned in this article are just the ones who have been caught. You think the rest are squeaky clean? Dream on, skippy.
Posted By Anonymous Mark, Dayton, OH : 4:05 PM ET
It is disgusting that these criminals continue to exploit the American people. They certainly demonstrate the falsehood of the axiom that crime does not pay.
Posted By Anonymous Eric Thompson, Hartford, CT : 4:05 PM ET
Hey Drew, These facts have been reported over the years and I am outraged each time I hear it. Somehow the people of this country have to put a stop to this. Keep the light shining on this ludicrous law so that some how it will be changed. The most I can do, as a viewer, is know about it and vote those out of office who support this kind of corruption. Yes, paying law breakers with tax dollars is corruption and certainly a lack of integrity. Unfortunately, integrity is a word that the current lawmakers do not understand.
Posted By Anonymous Judy Stage Brooklyn Michigan : 4:05 PM ET
According to CNN reports, John Kerry proposed this very same Amendment last May and the Amendment was killed by Congressman in charge of the commitee, Bob Ney-- the very same convicted felon of Ohio. Convicted felons, no matter what party should not be allowed to collect a single penny of taxpayer dollars--EVER!
Posted By Anonymous Cheryl Wapak, Ohio : 4:05 PM ET
This is disgusting!!! Convicted felons get their voting rights taken away so why do these felons still get paid by the taxpayers. This waste needs to stop and stop now!!
Posted By Anonymous Juliana, Livermore, CA : 4:06 PM ET
Interesting. I remember reading a few months ago that Rep Bob Ney voted FOR convicted congress members to still be eligible for their pension, a few months before he resigned to plead GUILTY.
Posted By Anonymous Carey, Austin, TX : 4:08 PM ET
I see nothing wrong with this. It is THE SAME as it HAS BEEN and WILL BE. OUR Government is making SO MUCH MORE than the "average American" and they can do no wrong. THEY even get to decide WHEN and HOW MUCH their raises are when we are still struggling.

So I see nothing wrong with OUR GOVERNMENT screwing us. It IS how it HAS ALWAYS BEEN and WILL ALWAYS BE.

Sad thing is, there isn't ANYONE who can or will do anything about it.

This article is a start, but it is also finished because there is not anyone with the "stones" to put this into a widely seen mainstream media format.

Thank You for trying.
Posted By Anonymous Dan H. San Antonio, Tx. : 4:08 PM ET
. . . I'm only 27 and people wonder HOW i can be so jaded about our government on politics-in-general. I mean, are you kidding me!?

I swear I'm writing a letter to someone after reading this. This is SO riduclous!
Posted By Anonymous NAthon, Brooklyn NYC : 4:09 PM ET
I will be in the minority here, but the pensions should stay. I am an actuary who helps provide pensions to people who earned them when their pension plans terminate in the private sector. Anyone who has earned a pension, even those who committed fraud, are entitled to receive the pension they earned according to their pension plans. It is possible for these people to lose their pensions due to judgements in the courts, but that occurs on a case by case basis only.

Lawmakers should remain entitled to receive their pensions unless a judge says otherwise.
Posted By Anonymous Todd Stevens, Washington, DC : 4:11 PM ET
This in an outrage!
Someone should explore the legal implications of this ridiculousness!

Posted By Anonymous James W. Procopio, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania : 4:11 PM ET
This is stealing all over again! Surely, there are other people presently in Congress who will someday also benefit in the same way. In the meantime, since this legislation would be passed after these thieves began receiving their pensions, they will still receive these benefits. Members of Congress should act quickly (some to their own detriment) to end this insanity. Thieves should not be receiving a pension, especially one they earned while stealing. They are also provided "room and board" in prison.
Posted By Anonymous Myra L. Montgomery, St. Paul, MN : 4:12 PM ET
I've know about this for quite some time, but it's about time someone made this known to the peons who pay these jerks..I'm sick of it. I don't think they should receive compensation, or benefits i.e. health and life insurance, of any kind--once they're convicted or are run out of office because of ciminal or unethical behavior
Posted By Anonymous Dick, Austin, Tx : 4:12 PM ET
I agree that any congressman convicted of any serioues crimes while in office should forfeit any privledges that he or she are provided when they leave office. If this were any other law breaking government employee, they would lose their benefits in an instant. Why should Congressman be any different?
Posted By Anonymous Stuart Jablonski - Duluth, Georgia : 4:14 PM ET
Wow, this makes me sick. Many hard working people such as Enron and airline employees have lost their well-earned pensions over the last few years. Now, to see that our former "leaders" are collecting penions from the public, whom they were convicted of cheating, is just wrong. Why any public official gets a pension is questionnable. They should have to save for their retirement like the rest of us.
Posted By Anonymous Keith Koller, San Francisco, CA : 4:17 PM ET
When are our leaders going to be held to the same standard as the general public instead of a lower one?

It is really sad when they avoid speaking about it because they know full well they are wrong. It labels them white collar thieves.
Posted By Anonymous Rick, Centennial CO : 4:17 PM ET
They should all be cut off. There is no reason they should be allowed to collect bebefits after being convicted. If they had to play by the rules the rest of us are supposed to play by, maybe the stench of corruption coming out of Washington wouldn't be nearly as bad as it is now. I can smell it from Pennsylvania. I guess there are two sets of rules, one for the wealthy, powerful and connected and one for the rest of us.
Posted By Anonymous Alex, York, PA : 4:17 PM ET
makes one wonder about being honest and trying to earn a living.
Posted By Anonymous A Kraft Naples Florida : 4:18 PM ET
Hello,

I am mad - I'm struggling off of 2 part time jobs and this person can steel public money go to prison and come home and get a pension from the very place he stole from. What is wrong with this picture. I'll even bet he didn't do that much time - but you let me steel and I bet I don't get the same treatment. The tax payers are really getting the shaft.
Posted By Anonymous Derotts3 - St. Louis, Mo. : 4:18 PM ET
This is truly an appalling situation when our country pays convicted criminals more than they do those that volunteer to protect the freedoms of our country. Instances such as these are not only disheartening to our military members, but should be considered a fleecing of our tax payers dollars.

As a miitary members whose about to put my life on the line once again for our country's policies, what can we do to have these wrongs made right? Who do we have to write and or petition to?
Posted By Anonymous CPT Jermaine Hampton, US Army, Ft. Riley, KS : 4:19 PM ET
This isn't suprising. Just another example of corrupt greed, er I mean American politics. The taxpayers have long since ignored the politicians and what is really going on behind the scenes in Washington. We are all too concerned about our own lives and how to manage work, kids and home all at the same time. The result? A government full of corrupt millionaires and some billionaires all looking out for "I" the person instead of "We" the Nation.
Posted By Anonymous Katherine, Woodland Hills CA : 4:20 PM ET
This is a slap in the face to every American who is honest, pays taxes, and who is likely never to see his/her Social Security check. We must stop mit. But which Congressperson do we ask; the next one convicted?
Posted By Anonymous Wendy Riccio, Tewkabury, NJ : 4:21 PM ET
This is outrageous, and plain wrong. Convicted felons often can't vote, can't receive federal student loans, can't receive subsidized rent, the list goes on, making it extremely hard to reenter society. Those pensions ought to be completely garnisheed to pay back victims, and support charities, or eliminated all together.
Posted By Anonymous Cindy McKenzie, Helena, MT : 4:21 PM ET
When is the public going to stand up and use some common sense! There is no reason that these convicts should be receiving pensions. They took advantage of their positions in public office for their own private good. After reading this it would surprise me if they are also still allowed to vote. Give me a break!!
Posted By Anonymous J Contes, Charlotte, NC : 4:21 PM ET
This is another example of congress taking care of itself and leaving the remainder of us taxpayers out in the cold.....I think they should stop giving themselves pay raises and govern.
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer, Alexandria, VA : 4:21 PM ET
Well, here's a chance for the new powers in congress to set a new standard for ethics. Create new legislation that would strip all taxpayer funded benefits from those public servants who are convicted of felony crimes. We paid them. They broke the law. Exactly why are we still paying them?
Posted By Anonymous Doug, Oxford, OH : 4:23 PM ET
This is amazing. These individuals, in large part, are the reason why so many of our citizens have lost faith in our public servants. They have betrayed the public's trust and do not deserve a dime of our money.
Posted By Anonymous Mike Columbus, Ohio : 4:30 PM ET
We need to not only stop paying pensions to federal officials who abuse their positions, but to federal officials who continue to drive this country into further debt -- including the current president, vice-president, and members of Congress who waste the public's money by trillions spent on unnecessary wars, questionable programs, and wasteful pork barrel spending.
Posted By Anonymous Carol, Sanford, FL : 4:31 PM ET
That sounds about right!! My daughter who has two children can't even get her child support. Maybe she should run for congress so she can get some help!
Posted By Anonymous Betty - Riverview, Florida : 4:31 PM ET
And you are surprised at this?
Posted By Anonymous Rich, Corvallis Oregon : 4:32 PM ET
If we also deny accumulated pensions to convicted felons in the private sector -- be they former grunt employees or CEOs of FORTUNE 500 companies -- then I'd say sure. But I find it more probable that in such a circumstance the lawyers would scream and the public would cry out for the little grunt guy, even if his felony was related to his job.
Posted By Anonymous John King, Boston MA : 4:33 PM ET
Great post. Thank you for bringing this topic out to light. The public needs to know this stuff.
Posted By Anonymous Ed, Chicago IL : 4:33 PM ET
We in Germany say "One crow won't take out the eyes of another one". Since everybody in politics seems to have dirty hands nowadays congress will surely not do so. If i am wrong i propose a statue for Speaker Pelosi and the 110th congress!
Posted By Anonymous Martin, Frankfurt, Germany : 4:33 PM ET
Drew, I was so upset after reading this story I sent an email to my congressman, Ben Chandler. I hope more people do the same.
Posted By Anonymous Jess, Paris, KY : 4:34 PM ET
Big surprise. If you ask me, corruption is a bigger threat to this Republic than terrorists. Ever wonder why taking the money out of politics is a non-starter? Um, because if that happened, then maybe the wealthy do not get to decide how the wealth is distributed? Ain't gonna happen.

kd
Posted By Anonymous Kevin, Charlotte, NC : 4:34 PM ET
Crimes that violate the public trust are and should be viewed with utter contempt.These public figures by their own decision are sent to Washington to do the business of the people who elected them and not to give them the business.Real men in a real work place know how to deal with a thief at a work site.If Congress has a problem doing the right thing with a thief them they should not be in Washington.The town has become a hangout for freeloaders who dress like Congressmen/women.It is not hard for most of us to do the right thing.Why do they have such a hard time.No more pardons for thieves and stop the pentions for for those in Congress who can't seem to understand why it is they are there in the first place.
Posted By Anonymous JohnDeery Lansdale Pa : 4:35 PM ET
This is a travisty of justice. All convicted politcians should be stripped of all rights as a public servant including titles and pensions. It is so wrong that they steal from the tax payers and then go on collecting a pension as if nothing happened.
Posted By Anonymous James Hartzog, Rockwood, MI : 4:37 PM ET
That is absolutely rediculous. There are millions of law abiding citizens busting ther butts to make ends meat in this country and we are continuing to pay six figure pensions to convicted felons, just becuase they served in Congress. Why is this so one sided where in this country a blue collar ex-con practically cannot find work because of his previous incarceration. This is what my hard earned tax dollars are going for? What can i do to take action against this provision in the congressional pension provisions.
Chad R. Hammond, Esq.
Brooklyn, NY.
Posted By Anonymous Chad Hammond, Brooklyn, NY : 4:37 PM ET
I think it's disgusting that these Congressmen who have been found guilty of serious crimes are still collecting their pension - our hard earned tax money. What is more distrubing is that many of these "representatives" have enough money to live quite comfortably without being given political welfare. I think that we need to reform this system and take away the pensions entirely and let the Congress work with 401K plans. After all, this group makes more money than most of us can ever dream about, they should have more than enough to cover retirement.
Posted By Anonymous Breton - Frederick, Maryland : 4:37 PM ET
Your priciple of "separation of power" is obviously faulty if you let your congressmen decide over their own salaries, pensions and other benefits. Is this system possible to change? Has the members of Congress enough backbone to change this?

Probably not, when a ruling elite is used to have it their own way, nothing short of a revolution will change such a system. I suspect that the Congress could never find a majority for any proposals lessening the benefits.
Posted By Anonymous Jan Hjelm, Kramfors, Sweden : 4:38 PM ET
He should not only be cut off, he should be made to work for a living and pay back what he stole. I'm sick of these greedy so-and-so's.
Posted By Anonymous Matthew, Dallas, Texas : 4:40 PM ET
This is a shame on us. We citizens need to put a stop to this and now!
Posted By Anonymous Maria Eskandanian Paso Robles, CA : 4:42 PM ET
Correction - Nardelli from Home Depot is taking home a $210 million package.
Posted By Anonymous TJ - Harrisburg, PA : 4:55 PM ET
It's tragic to think that we are still supporting the very people that we elected because we trusted them. They have abused that trust and in my mind owe us not only what they have received in pension benfits but also whatever the value of what they were convicted for was.

Now that the "holier than thou" dems control congress, lets see if they have enough nerve to finally stand up and do what is right. I'll bet nothing comes of it. After all, they probably owe the convicts a few favors for being where they are today themselves!
Posted By Anonymous Bill, Baltimore, MD : 4:56 PM ET
The US Government is changing its employee payroll system from the GS structure to the NSPS paybanding structure. It is suppose to reward those who work and is an effort to get rid of the deadwood that has long been part of the GS system. It never ceases to amaze me, that the people who legislate a bad system like the NSPS with its inherent flaws to promote nepotism, favoritism, inequity, and undermine the EEO system still think they deserve more than the average person who does an honest day of work each and every day.

It is about time we start limiting terms and that congressional members only receive a pension after time and age (85) of service like the rest of the people in this world.

The goverment keeps promoting criminal behavior of this type. My real concern is what about the national security of the US based on the impact of the theft and greed of our politicians.
Posted By Anonymous Denise Ball, Las Cruces, NM : 4:56 PM ET
I looked up Congress in the dictionary and found the following as one of the sub-descriptions:

Congress - familiar relations; dealings; intercourse.

So a person who makes himself "familiar by relating to us", gets elected, does some "shady deals" and we all get "screwed".

Why hasn't or doesn't Congress pass a law that prevents a guy like Rosti from collecting a pension. And while I'm at it why are they allowed to park illegaly and not get a ticket or speed and get away with it and as far as I know commit a slew of other misdemeanors and get away scott free?

I've never understood this privilege that allows lawmakers to be lawbreakers. And perhaps this "get out of jail free" card is what eventually allows the greedier of them to push the privilige beyond the pale.

Apparently the rats and not the cats are in charge of security at the cheese factory.
Posted By Anonymous Lou M., Lake Forest, Illinois : 4:56 PM ET
Conviction of a crime does not give Government the right to "empty one's bank account". The law was broken, the sentence was delivered, the debt to society was paid. You can't go back for more!
Posted By Anonymous M. Harper, Los Altos, CA : 4:57 PM ET
This is really sad. There is something wrong with the system when we let felons draw a pension from us taxpayers. Is there anything that can be done about it?
Posted By Anonymous Ed Alford, Sanford, NC : 5:00 PM ET
does anyone know what we can do about it?
Posted By Anonymous e moseley lake city, fl : 5:00 PM ET
Why should they get all the benfits if we commited a felony and was receiving SS we would lose what little
SS payment we receive. The taxpayers
not only pay for there keep but the
wages as well to go to a first class
prison with there own cell phones nobody else can have a cell phone when they are in prison
Posted By Anonymous Carol ,Moosup ct : 5:15 PM ET
The Law is the Law and until it has been changed - The Law is the Law.
Posted By Anonymous Donovan, Silver Spring, MD : 5:17 PM ET
I'm not so sure that I'm ok with the idea of pulling the pensions from either Rostenkowski or Cunningham or any of them. The sizes of the pensions are, if I understand correctly, awarded as part of a compensation package over time. So that when a Congressman receives X dollars of salary, he is entitled to Y dollars added to his pension fund. This goes up over time based on his service.

Bear with me here.

Because of this, I don't see grabbing the pension money as making any more sense than taking back a Congressman's salary from his whole career in office. The voters in his district elected to hire him and provide him with the agreed-on benefits in exchange for his service for each 2 year term. Until the man is removed from office or resigns, that agreement stands. Taking back the pension money would defy the expressed will of the official's constituents. You might as well say that you're going to invalidate every vote that the former Representative cast while in office and strike down every law that passed by his single vote margin.

Revenge feels good but isn't always justified on closer scrutiny.
Posted By Anonymous Jackson Landers, Charlottesville, VA : 5:17 PM ET
Unbelieveable! They certainly don't deserve it, and it should be stripped from them immediately!! That is really upsetting and egregious.
Posted By Anonymous Michael Albrich, Clarkston, WA : 5:20 PM ET
Denying convicted congressional members would be one small step but a giant leap in the right direction for we taxpayers. By the way, the National Taxpayers Union seem to me a good place to start a viable third political party that America needs so desperately.
Posted By Anonymous TJ Bryan, Portland, Oregon : 5:21 PM ET
all govt pensions are ridiculous. the public sector gets huge pensions (and health care) at an early age while the general citizenry must wait till age 66-70 to get a very small social security payment. this must be equalized to cure the disparity and prevent oligarchy from becoming the norml
Posted By Anonymous Joda Solomon, Torrance, CA : 5:24 PM ET
As sad as this is, it does not surprise me one bit.
Posted By Anonymous Katrina Hudson, Columbus GA : 5:25 PM ET
THAT's IT!! After all these years of punching a clock, day after day - I am SO running for office. Easy street, here I come!
Posted By Anonymous John, St. Pete FL : 5:29 PM ET
This is a prime example of what is wrong with the current government. Even when they are ousted for doing wrong we still pay. We don't need to increase taxes we need to vote in non politicians.The only term limits that can't be undone are those where the American public start voting out reps after a few terms so they are not trying to benifit themselves but start doing what is best for the country.
Posted By Anonymous Ryan , C B, Iowa : 5:29 PM ET
What can we do to stop these criminals from stealing from the public immediately? Let me know how I can help stop this today. I will employ my High School student body to assist in the campaign. R.S.Dimesky Riviera Beach Maritime Academy, Riviera Beach Florida
Posted By Anonymous R.S.Dimesky Boynton Beach, FL : 5:30 PM ET
very good piece, a bulls eye. Write to your representative (if he/she is not in jail already) and demand current law be changed!
Posted By Anonymous vladimir, brooklyn, ny : 5:30 PM ET
In America, Laws are meant to guide the behavior of it's Citizens in that ones actions and Misbehavior, if judged to have broken "A" written Law, will reap the individual time in jail as appropriate to the written Law that the individual broke to include all associating fines and human restrictions. Unless,,, you are a Congressman, Senator, Governor or the President, in which case, the written Law does not apply.
This level of Impunity is the essence of "POWER". Why do you think Rich people run for office,,,, because Money isn't POWER, Political Office is Power.
How do you destroy the Powerful,,,, you take their Money. I would move to create a law that states, If any member of any political office is found guilty of a crime or misrepresentation of his political office in any manner, that member forfeits all of his and his immediate family's existing Money and Assets to the State to which he represents. Similar to how they treat drug dealers that own Mansions and Boats.
Posted By Anonymous Felton, Jacksonville, NC : 5:30 PM ET
Remember a few years back when Congress couldn't wait to keep "regular" convicted felons from receiving Social Security benefits while incarcerated? Including both legally retirement age and disability recipients? How many people know that a veteran rated service-connected disabled after being imprisoned will lose their benefits while in prison? Including the right for survivors to collect the money? This whole issue is sickening and deserves to be brought to light. Do it, Cooper, it's a good story.
Posted By Anonymous Lloyd, MillValley, CA : 5:32 PM ET
Now that the democrats have taken both houses, it's good to see someone in the media start looking into THEIR ethical hypocrisy!
Posted By Anonymous John Kaleto, San Diego, CA : 5:32 PM ET
This is wrong!! As an native of Illinois, it totally offends me that this man is still on the dole. WHAT CAN WE DO TO STOP THIS KIND OF ABUSE ?? -- AS IT IS JUST THAT TO THOSE WHO ONCE UPON A TIME BELIEVED IN HIM AND ELECTED HIM. Let him share the life of other convicted felons. By continuing to support him (with money, if nothing else (please someone check and make sure we aren't also providing him with office and support staff money), don't we encourage others to do the same things he did?
Posted By Anonymous Beth Christoffel, Sarasota, FL : 5:35 PM ET
Our father, who art in congress,...................
Posted By Anonymous P. Stagner, Springfield, VT : 5:36 PM ET
There are laws aimed at forfeiture of the proceeds criminals gain in a fraudulent enterprises. There should have been provisions made against such deceitful gains as these "gentlemen" have done. The biggest problem i see is the that even if they passed a law now these "congressmen" would likely claim they are "grandfathered" into their retirement and any new laws would be retrospective (i.e. made n hindsight) and unable to stop their obtaining their pensions this late in the game. It's very suspect that the drafters of the laws and policies governing these criminal actions failed to forsee the obvious potential for a congressman to lie, cheat, and or steal. I recognize not all congressmen/women are not all bad, but the laws are intended to protect the people, not those that act as their fuduciaries in Washington.
Posted By Anonymous William Porter, Savannah, GA : 5:37 PM ET
A felon recieving a "public" pension is morally outrageous indeed, but maybe the bigger question is why such a huge pension in the first place??? Where do I vote THAT?
Posted By Anonymous Robert W., Annandale, Va. : 5:38 PM ET
This is beyond infuriating. This guy broke the law, and he's collecting more in a pension than i make busting my ... let my law abiding self go home to my one room shack and rest - because now at least i know where all the taxes i'm paying are going - ouch! this stings!
Posted By Anonymous Laurie, Dayton, New Jersey : 5:43 PM ET
There needs to be a petition for the taxpayers to sign. It is important for us to unite to show our displeasure with this practice. Also, if the lawmakers had to live on social security like the average joe and use the same healthcare programs we use, then I bet you would see improvements made. We need to stop accepting everything the lawmakers do and fight back. The middle class is really disappearing. The poor do get poorer and the wealthy get all the breaks.
Posted By Anonymous Sheila Henaughan, Rolling Meadows, Illinois : 5:58 PM ET
We should all stop paying our taxes until this is stopped.
Posted By Anonymous Karen, Minneapolis, MN : 6:03 PM ET
This is about the most outragious thing I have ever heard of. I work for the DOD, as a worker, if we get cought doing anything wrong, we get a letter of caution; cought again for the same offence, 1 to 3 days off work without pay, caught again and your fired. NO bennies, No severence and No retirement. Paying out money to these Ex-cons from the tax Payers is nothing short of Waste, Fraud and Abuse.
Posted By Anonymous Gary Hill Burley, Washington : 6:05 PM ET
This is completely outrageous! I strongly support the idea of adding provision to the law, it is time to use the pesticide to save taxpayers' right. Everybody works hard to build a better country, we can let those convicted lawmakers hold us back. Hey, there is no such thing like Free Lunch.!!
Posted By Anonymous Gabrielle. TORONTO, ON : 3:22 PM ET
Why is it, all we do is talk about these things??? Today we talk about the unfairness of all of this, tomorrow it is forgotten. How truly sad!!! Stop it now!!
Posted By Anonymous arlene leach stevensville, mt 59870 : 3:45 PM ET
I sent the following to my "Republican" Senators. I will also send to Texas Congressman.

No! Americans should not pay prosecuted Senators or Congressmen any Pension. This has to stop. Please vote for your constituents. Several "Republicans" said last year there is not enough money for the 'Peoples Entitlements.' Well this will be less a problem if people who misuse there positions in Congress and the Senate no longer are paid for theft and other misuses of governmental positions. Please lead and/or support this goal. We are watching!
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Bowker, Pflugerville, Texas : 3:47 PM ET
Congratulations for someone on it to do something about it. This is a critical piece of the puzzle to demand better ethics in Congress. If they knew that accepting a bribe, could cost them millions of dollars to them in pension,
they'll think twice. But please don't stop there. Turn to the cities and states too. We have a judge who embezzled $400,000 plus from a mentally challenged girls trust account and went to jail, but still gets his pension.

So look down too. This same policy should be administered all throughout the public sector.

By the wa, off the subject...I think churches should be untaxable if they focus on their religious purpose of connect their God with their parish and serving the community or world's poor and causes. But when they become a political arm, they have other motivations,
undisclosed purpose to the funds that their parish gives to help others (not congress). Therefore, tax exempt religious organizations that take a political side should lose the religious exemptions that dictate them and become a taxable entity. That should help them with their focus.

Anyone else agree?
Posted By Anonymous Girnger Taylor, Minneapolis, MN : 3:48 PM ET
How futile....This is the tip of the iceberg...If we truly knew...depression would take over this country and turn to civil war...Iraq would look like a carnival.jy
Posted By Anonymous Jo,Rancho Mirage, Ca : 3:48 PM ET
1. How many congress people are retired and what is the range of their retirement benifits. Financially and in perks
Posted By Anonymous Jim Leonard, Charlotte NC : 3:48 PM ET
if we have to change congressmen every two years to find the right people for the job then and only then will congress get the message that the american people will no longer tolerate their selfish acts also that their main job is the business of the american people and not their pocketbooks
Posted By Anonymous emory tacoma wa : 3:51 PM ET
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