During the past year, I have gained experience working with Congress through my organization’s Office of Congressional Affairs. While my main role has been to run our communications and training programs, I’ve had my fair share of interaction with Congressional members and staffers, as well as daily interaction with our liaison officers, the people whose job it is to manage the relationships with Hill personalities.
For some reason, several of these liaison officers have suggested I run for Congress someday. “You’ve got the charisma,” one said. “You would tell it like it is,” another said. That may be true…
And, of course, as someone gives you a suggestion, it’s only natural to consider it, so I did, and while I am certainly not announcing my candidacy for the House of Representatives, I will describe below the bills I would propose and how, without a doubt, I would be a one-term Congressman because of them. Take a read and let me know what you think. Here they are, in no particular order:
The Veteran and Federal Government Pension Realignment Act
Current Situation: Military personnel who serve 20 years on active duty receive a monetary pension upon retirement that is approximately 55% of their base pay (bonus and incentive pay is not calculated as a part of this). Personnel who serve 30 years receive about 70% of their base pay. They also receive Tricare medical benefits for life.
Example: An Air Force pilot who went to the Air Force Academy served 26 years of active duty decides to retire. Because of his academy years, his pension is calculated with 30 years of service, and he would earn 70% of his $12,270.30 monthly salary, which would be $8,589.21 per month, or $103,070.52 per year, according to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service website. The retired pilot, who is only 48 years old, wants to continue working, so he gets a job at Honeywell Aerospace, making at least $150,000 a year (probably more). His annual income is more than $250,000 a year, approximately 40% of which comes from his military pension.
The Next Example: a Navy Explosive Ordnance Demolition sailor enlisted at 18 years of age and served a really difficult 20 years, reaching the rank of Chief Petty Officer (E-7) and retiring at 38 years old. Even for all of his hard work, he was only earning $4,797.60 per month, for an annual salary of $57,571.20. If this person retired, his annual pension would be $31,664.16, hardly enough to live on. So the person goes and gets another job selling medical equipment, pulls in $100,000 per year doing so, and has the pension as icing on the cake. In fact, he’s making so much money that he has enough to buy season tickets in the Washington Nationals Diamond Club section year after year.
These two examples are not hypothetical, they are real people I know.
Do these people need these monthly pension payouts? How often is this happening where the US Government is simply adding more money to people who already have plenty? How much money is given to people who don’t need it?
My Proposal: If you are a military or federal government pensioner, you do not qualify for the monetary portion of your pension if you make more than $100,000 per year from another source of income. If you make between $50,000 and $100,000, you’ll receive 50% of your pension in the next year. If you make between $25,000 and $50,000, you’ll receive 75% of your pension. If you earn less than $25,000, you’ll receive your entire pension in the next year.
The government saves billions of dollars per year, which can be used for pressing concerns like fighting the opioid crisis, combating homelessness, improving education, preventing crime, etc. These pensioners medical benefits would not be affected
The 12-Year Term Limits Act
This one is simple to me. We need term limits to ensure we are getting fresh ideas into the policymaking body of our government, and doing so will help limit special interest groups because their support will be short-lived. We’ve got senators who were elected during Presidents Nixon and Regan, and 61 members of the House of Representatives have been there for at least 20 years. It’s far too much.
My Proposal: All senators and representatives will be subject to term limits: two terms in the Senate and six terms in the House. Oh, and if you think you’re doing both, try again, you can only do 18 years combined.
Politics is a job, not a career, so don’t make it one. Get in, do your stuff, and get out.
The Defense Budget Cut Act
Current Situation: In 2018, the Department of Defense budget was $686,000,000,000. Try to fathom how much money that is. A stack of $10,000 (100 one-hundred-dollar-bills) is about a half-an-inch thick. That means that a stack of $100,000 is about five-to-six inches tall. Get 10 of those and put them next to each other in two rows of five, now you’ve got $1 million. Take that and add nine more boxes and you get $10 million. Do that 10 times and now you have $100 million. By this time, your entire living room floor is filled with boxes of $1 million. Then take nine other living rooms and fill them up, add yours and then you have $1 billion. Now figure out how many living rooms you have to fill up to equal the defense budget.
I served in our military, and I think we have too many people, doing too many things that they don’t need to be doing. Yes, we need new planes, but do we need 200 F-22 Raptors, when we haven’t had any air-to-air fighter-to-fighter combat since Desert Storm? Does the Navy need 490 ships with seven fleets prepositioned across the world with no credible naval threat to the freedom of the seas? I don’t think so. It’s time to cut the budget and divert a good portion of it to improving things here in America.
My Proposal: Cut the Defense Department budget by at least 20%.
Yes, we need a strong military, but strength doesn’t come from numbers. It comes from a professional force, trained in myriad styles of combat, who can use technology to its advantage and deploy to the corners of the globe almost instantaneously. We can do all of that and still cut the budget and divert the money to education, homelessness, drug addiction, crime prevention, and other things here at home.
The George Washington Parkway Realignment Act
This may be a silly one for some people, but it’s important to me. If you have ever driven on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, you’d know that it’s garbage. I’ve written about this before, so it shouldn’t be a surprise. The road is a major artery in and out of DC, which intersects with six major highways, six bridges across the Potomac River, and accesses Reagan National Airport. Despite a recent partial repaving, the road has been riddled with potholes, has no shoulder, no guardrails, no lights, and signs that barely do drivers justice.
My Proposal: It is time to remove the “George Washington National Park” from the registry of the National Park listing, hand the land over to Virginia, and make the roadway a part of the Interstate Highway System with funding from the Department of Transportation (and not the Department of Interior National Park Service).
I’ve probably got some more ideas, but I’ll leave it there for now. Yes, I understand these would be considered “dead on arrival,” if they were to actually happen, but they’re still my ideas and still what I would propose.