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Rep. David Wu could be eligible for pension and benefits worth more than $1 million in his lifetime, according to an analysis by the National Taxpayers Union. Wu, D-Ore., first elected in 1998, announced Tuesday he will leave Congress.
His departure follows a report in The Oregonian last week that an 18-year-old woman complained to his office about an "unwanted sexual encounter." The National Taxpayers Union, a non-partisan organization, calculated that Wu could qualify for a pension worth about $851,000 over his lifetime. It also estimates Wu's balance in his federal Thrift Savings Plan, which is like a 401(k) plan for members of Congress, could possibly be as high as $213,855. Wu, 56, could immediately draw $23,871 on his pension if he opts to receive early payments. If he waits until he's 62, his annual pension would be about 30% higher, NTU estimates. In his resignation announcement, Wu said he is leaving so he can take care of his family as he fights "these very serious allegations." Wu, who has been separated from his wife since 2009, has two children. Some perspective: Congressional pensions are two to three times more generous than those offered to private-sector workers who earn the same salary, the NTU says. (Rank-and-file members such as Wu are paid $174,000 a year, while top leaders get more.) Also, unlike most private-sector pension plans, a cost-of-living adjustment is applied to the congressional benefit. The NTU calculates pension amounts based on public records dealing with length of federal service, current age, life expectancy and a cost-of-living-adjustment of 3% annually. Pete Sepp, executive vice president of NTU, says there are some unknown variables that could affect the total benefits Wu would receive. For example, one unknown is whether Wu counts his year as a clerk to a federal judge as part of his overall federal service. That would affect the pension benefit, as well as the amount in Wu's Thrift Savings Plan. The National Taxpayers Union estimates are based on Wu leaving Congress on Aug. 1, and his pension could be higher if he stays past that date. The congressman did not give a specific date for his departure, saying only that he'll leave once Congress and President Obama work out a deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said the federal government could default on its obligations if Congress does not raise the nation's $14.3 trillion debt limit by Aug. 2. Sepp said Wu's pension could be affected if he becomes divorced. In a separate financial matter, Wu has more than $342,000 in his campaign account, according to records kept by the independent Center for Responsive Politics. Under the law, Wu cannot convert those funds to his personal use when he leaves Congress.
Send Comments ASKFMB OPINION
The Pay Rules for Political Representatives have got to be changed
It's understood that one deserves a pension of some sort when working for a company of any kind, additionally, 401k is an option, a way to pad ones future with funding to allow one to live out their elderly years in some semblance of comfort. Prudent people plan ahead, and once they have accumulated enough money to finally retire with some degree of satisfaction that they have a big enough bundle to allow them to be who and what they want to be as a retired person, then I say, go for it.
However, individuals who opt to seek out a political office of any kind, or opt to work for the federal government or a state government, the rules have to be different for those who choose to be a public servant. The Position of a public servant dynamics are totally different than that of any private position, in that, most public positions are paid for by tax payers, and the associated benefits are generally much better than a private job would provide.
Additionally, from a moral and ethical perspective, public positions that serves our judicial system, contracting services, and elected political offices are positions of influence and power, and these positions, specifically, require individuals who are of the utmost in character and judgment, due to the nature of the position and the possible ramifications of mal behavior.
A Public Service Position such as the District Attorney, a State or Federal Judge, a Police Officer, a Congress Person or a Senator are the type of jobs that have great responsibility, and the acts and actions of the person that have these types of positions, directly or indirectly, affect many facets of the lives of the immediate public that they serve, and in some cases, these jobs affect the entire country, thus, the person that serves these positions ought to be held accountable to the extent of extreme seriousness.
Therefore, if and when a person that is serving in a position of authority, dishonors the position, be it immorally, illegally or unethically, that person should not receive any pension what so ever. The Reason that the degree of harshness is necessary in this circumstance is to ensure that the accountability level far exceeds any possible thoughts of considering to dishonor a position of authority that is bestowed on a individual by any State or the Government.
Mr. Wu, based on the allegations against him, has opted to resign his position after being a public servant for 13 years, and his decision to resign under the accusation of committing a immoral act, with possible criminal prosecution pending, puts him in the category of breaching the oath of office, and for that reason, the possible pension of $851,000.00 dollars ought not be granted.
The Consequences of the actions of elected officials have to be equal to the devastation of the broken trust that the citizens bestowed on the elected official.
In My Opinion
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