Congressman Gohmert does very well at explaining this himself.
In response to the multiple times our office has received chain email making untrue allegations about Congress, Social Security, pensions, pay raises and Obamacare:ALLEGATION & DEMAND IN EMAIL: Salary of House/Senate members . . . . . . . . . . $174,000/year FOR LIFE. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.ACTUAL FACTS: Members of Congress ONLY receive salaries during the terms for which they are elected. Following their service, former Members of Congress may be eligible for retirement benefits, but such retirement is governed by the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) Act of 1986, the same system as all other federal employees across the country. Member pension amounts depend on years of service, but since 1984, no Member of Congress is entitled to the salary received while in office. It is simply the same retirement as all other federal employees.DEMAND IN EMAIL: Congress (past, present, & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.ACTUAL FACTS: Members already participate in Social Security, and have since January 1, 1984. Members of Congress may NOT opt out. They are IN the Social Security program like most Americans, no matter how many email chains say otherwise. Those email chains are wrong.DEMAND IN EMAIL: Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.ACTUAL FACTS: Under Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution, Congress is required to determine its own pay. Unless there is a Constitutional amendment passed, there is no alternative. Although (like most other federal employees) Congressional pay is set to increase automatically, Congress has chosen not to increase its own pay for multiple years. In fact, Congress has not received a pay raise since 2009.DEMAND IN EMAIL: Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.ACTUAL FACTS: Before Obamacare, Members of Congress had the exact same insurance choices as the lowest level federal employees had under the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS). Members, and the majority of congressional staffers, are required to purchase insurance on the Obamacare exchanges in D.C. Obamacare specifically eliminated any federal contribution for Members of Congress, although all other federal employees across the country continued to receive that subsidy. However, Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Reid, and President Obama worked out an agreement to go ahead and let Members of Congress receive the federal subsidy anyway. Congressman Gohmert refused to accept the government subsidy, because the law did not allow it, and he knew how hard hit his own constituents were by the law. Without the subsidy, however, the insurance was too expensive for him, so he and his wife went without any health insurance for a number of years, but he now has it through an additional payment through his wife’s employer.