(Washington, DC)----Today’s edition of the High Point Enterprise featured an editorial concerning U.S. Rep. Howard Coble’s recently-introduced congressional pension reform bill. The editorial below appeared in the June 18 edition of the High Point Enterprise:
Our View: Coble tries it again
Jun. 18, 2013
We have in the past been critical of U.S. Rep. Howard Coble, R-6th, and some others for their longevity in Congress. We believe seats on Capitol Hill should be rotated more often than is the case.
But over Coble’s long tenure, we’ve also given him credit when credit is due, and Coble’s recent action certainly qualifies.
Last week, the congressman from Greensboro again introduced a bill that would require members of Congress to serve at least 12 years before they could become vested in the congressional pension program. Coble introduced a similar bill a few years ago, but it didn’t gain traction. Maybe this time, the more fiscally conservative members in the House will get behind Coble and this effort.
Since his election in 1984, Coble has been consistent in his opposition to the (“lavish” is often an adjective used here) congressional pension program. In fact, during that 1984 run for his first term, Coble campaigned that if elected, he would not participate in the pension program and that he would work to reform the system. Now, in his 15th term, Coble has lived up to that campaign promise — and although he’s not yet had the success he hoped for in reforming the program, he’s still carrying on with the effort.
“Reforming congressional pensions is long overdue,” Coble said in a news release announcing his bill. “From the feedback that I have received over the years, this program is unpopular with many taxpayers.”
“Unpopular with taxpayers” — now that is an understatement.
Under current law, members of Congress are vested in the congressional pension program after only five years of service and become eligible to receive lifetime benefits. That is less than one Senate term and less than three House terms. Under Coble’s bill, a person would be required to serve two Senate terms, six House terms or a combination of both to become eligible for the program.
We see that 12-year vesting requirement as reasonable. We also saw as reasonable Coble’s attempt several years ago to eliminate the congressional pension plan and place members of Congress in the pension plan in which other federal government employees participate. Of course, Coble had no success at all with that idea.
Perhaps this year, after all these long years of fighting for reform of the congressional pension program, Coble will have some success. For the nation’s taxpayers, that relief is long overdue.