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Ross sets his sights on federal, congressional pensions

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Rep. Dennis Ross (photo by Blair Tomlinson)Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., has scheduled a hearing for next Wednesday on federal pensions, and feds aren’t going to like what he’s got in store. Ross, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on the federal workforce, is going to look at how to move “the entire federal workforce, Congress included, to a more realistic and cost-effective defined contribution pension system as opposed to the bankrupting defined benefit plan.”

What would that mean? No more FERS pensions, for one, though it remains to be seen whether it would scratch pensions only for future employees or include some current employees.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who is chairman of the full oversight committee, proposed just such a plan last October. Issa’s office last year said his proposed 401(k)-like defined contribution plan would operate alongside the similar Thrift Savings Plan, which is also a defined contribution plan. So, under Issa’s plan, you’d essentially have two 401(k)s.

In a statement set to formally go out on Monday, Ross said:

The American people are also, rightfully, outraged by the pension benefits guaranteed to a bloated federal workforce, paid for through an ever-increasing tax burden on the American worker. Too many hard-working Americans watched their pensions evaporate because of unsustainable promises. [...] As Congress looks for ways to cut costs, pension reform that ensures a positive return to the worker while delivering cost savings to the taxpayer should be job one.

It’s worth noting that while federal pensions are deeply underfunded by some $673 billion, that is entirely due to the poor design of the now-closed Civil Service Retirement System, and the far less-generous Federal Employees Retirement System was designed to always stay fully funded (although most of the funding for the FERS pension comes from the government).

But Ross also wants to bring Congress’ lavish retirement benefits back in line with those enjoyed by rank-and-file feds. (If you wanna get mad, take a look at this chart.) Ross and I had an exchange via Twitter this afternoon in which he said “time to make Congressional pensions like everyone else’s” and added the hashtag “#nomoreperks.” When I asked if that meant he thought a FERS lawmaker, for example, should get his pension calculated at 1.1 percent instead of the current 1.7 percent, Ross replied, “absolutely.”

That’s the first time I know of that Ross has called for equalizing federal and congressional pensions. And it looks like he will fulfill a promise he made to ABC News last November, to consider the multiple bills that would whittle down congressional pensions. But feds’ pensions may get caught in the crossfire.

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  1. daniel famularo Says:
    January 21st, 2012 at 10:48 am

    The high five is a way to save money ,and make them pay more in to retirement

  2. Joeseph Watusi Says:
    January 21st, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    On Congress changing Federal Pension plans including their own, as most of them are wealthy, it is a sham,
    Congress will have safety valves, I doubt they will lose anything, this is an effort to slaughter the one of the two classes that now exist in America and is it not the wealthy,
    wake up America!, the average Federal worker does not make more than those in Private Industry!, are we talking overstaffed do nothing executives such as in the US Post Office, sure they have counterparts in other Federal agencies, bonuses and Golden parachutes, the Postal Service is cutting and consolidating, yet they offer only management Early retirements options, in other Federal agencies the Voluntary Early Retirements ( VER ) are being
    offered to the non executive workers , if Congress had any common sense, they would force the USPS to do just that,
    then start cutting and consolidating, strange how the wealthy Congress wants to further lower the living standards of the average worker in the Federal Government and in Private Industry, what are they ( Congress ) thinking?, sorry, that does not apply to elected representatives, and now Congressmen Ross R-FL, and Darrell Issa R-CA, want to basically eradicate your current Federal Employees Pension, to dual 401K’s (TSP)
    as well as Social Security , so what do we retire on , if through working low wage jobs we cannot 401K ourselves
    into the wealthy status of our elected Representatives?

  3. michael hawley Says:
    January 21st, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    this is not good for all the hard working people of the U.S.A. and people in the federal work force.

  4. Roxanne Diggs Says:
    January 22nd, 2012 at 9:32 am

    God will deal with those who inflict pain and hardship on the working class people, What happens in the dark will come to light. I am not that concerned by what congress does. It will all back fire on them.

  5. todd sweeny Says:
    January 22nd, 2012 at 9:47 am

    It sounds like a great idea! Issa/Ross are my favorite Republicans in the house!

  6. Raven Wood Says:
    January 22nd, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I think Ross and Issa are spiteful , evil, vendictive, selfish b******s who are over paid and milking the system and our tax dollars NOT the federal work force. Ross can kiss my a**!!
    He is nothing but a corrupt b******!!

  7. jim r Says:
    January 22nd, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Cut congress salaries by the percentage of the unemployed. At least until unemployement reaches about 3%,. Take that savings and continue with the “raise” CS 1%, below inflation. CS employees, should have the option to contribute or not into any retirement plan. And of course look at those super employee supervisors (SES) and managers “to much fat at the top”. God bless the hard working american, and damm those who take advantage of that work.

  8. paulcybil Says:
    January 22nd, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    I like this idea but I need more details. If this is for newly hired people it would make sence. They can judge for themselves if they think the job is worth it or not. But current and retired people have already made that choice and should be left alone.

  9. Dan Says:
    January 22nd, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Issa and Ross are multimillionaires. Issa has somewhere around 300 million. These guys are just continuing to do what comes natural, and that is to continue transferring wealth from the working class to the top on percent. They’re members in good standing. More class warfare.

  10. Rtremarche Says:
    January 22nd, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    The CSRS and FERS retirement programs are not the problems. Try cutting some of the USPS ‘s 38 vice presidents as a start and then we can talk.

  11. J R Says:
    January 23rd, 2012 at 2:10 am

    Congressmen and other politicans are descendants of the blue blood ivy league class known as the privileged. Politics is a means to preserve wealth for the Yale, Havard , exclusive private clubs wealthy. This group refers to themselves as conservatives as their primary concern is the bottomline of major corporations. They do not want any government control in wages as minimumn is too high corporations relocate to mexico, central america or outsource to china, south korea, pakistan and any other countries with low standards of living.
    Madoff methods employed to make bottomline numbers to add corporate value as well as increase wealty shareholders
    returns. Many department stores do not sell clothing made in this country. Television sets were not made in the US until several weeks ago when a TV plant set up production in Canton, Ohio. Wealhy politicans operate on the Madoff method deceiving working class Americans. Issa and Ross are multimillionaires. Fedual Lords whose desire is to maintain the serf system for the lords and barrons who control the wealth from generation to generation. Cut congress salaries.
    The late great Ted Kennedy defined POLITICANS as POLY (MANY) TICS (BLOOD SUCKING CREATURES).

  12. dl Says:
    January 23rd, 2012 at 10:58 am

    If any other federal agency is like the Pst Office then they need to get rid of the “details” managers and supervisor go on and get rid of the top. Way to many “chiefs”

  13. Paul leja Says:
    January 23rd, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    If Mr. Ross agreed to serve in the House for a dollar a year the taxpayers in Florida would still be screwed.

  14. Ruby Harrison Says:
    January 23rd, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    This is exactly why the United States now have the 1% and the 99%! People in high places do not care anything about the rest of the American working citizens. They don’t care if we live in a house or a hut! God will reward them, one day!

  15. Phil S Says:
    January 24th, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Too Generous!? Are you kidding me.
    Too generous for Reps and Sens maybe?
    But the average CSRS pension is on a par with Social Security.
    I know people getting 2 and 3 pensions while collectinc Soc Sec too! Being on a CSRS pension after 30+ years of work is not overly generous – maybe for the fatcat do-nothing big shots, but for the average working man (mailman, IRS clerk, Soc Sec clerk) it is just enough to get by on. Cap pensions at $4000 per month max, and you might be on to something!!!

  16. Jackie Says:
    January 24th, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    None of those congressmen give a rats behind about the middle class. They would not be affected by a pension cut- hell, most of them are millionaires. They should all be FIRED for their total failure to do anything this term. They take more vacations and breaks than anything productive or good for the economy. What a joke..

  17. Fedline » Unemployment deal would cut Congress’ cushy pension Says:
    February 16th, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    [...] Dennis Ross, R-Calif., who is one of Issa’s deputies, has been pushing to eliminate Congress’ pension perk for some time now. If it passes, this would amount to a [...]