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Ousted Lawmakers to Walk Away With Huge Pensions

November 18, 1994|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Thomas S. Foley (D-Wash.), the first House Speaker to lose reelection in a century, heads the list of ousted congressmen who will take huge pensions with them when they leave the capital.

With 32 years of government service, Foley is eligible to begin collecting $123,804 a year starting in January.

Most of the more than three dozen lawmakers rejected on Election Day are immediately entitled to pensions ranging from about $35,000 to more than $100,000, according to estimates calculated by the National Taxpayers Union, a Washington-based group that advocates lower government spending and taxes.

Qualifying for pensions of $96,462 a year, according to the group, are:

* Former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.), who awaits trial on public corruption charges.

* Rep. Jack Brooks (D-Tex.), upset in his reelection bid after 46 years of government service.

* Rep. Neal Smith (D-Iowa), who has 39 years of service.

If Foley, Rostenkowski, Smith and Brooks reach their respective ages of life expectancy--80 to 85--their four pensions alone will have cost taxpayers nearly $9 million, the taxpayers group says.

The various congressional plans also have other benefits not available to many Americans.

Those include early retirement ages (as young as 50), fewer years of service to be vested (usually five) and a mandatory adjustment for inflation. Most private pension plans don't adjust for inflation.

Pension figures aren't readily available on Capitol Hill. But the NTU annually provides its own estimates based on surveys it takes of members of Congress.

Lawmakers who declined to provide the information are assumed to be in the main civil service pension program for the purpose of the estimates, the group said.

Big pensions also await some lawmakers who retired, including Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.), who can begin collecting $110,538 a year in January.

On the Senate side, retiring Majority Leader George J. Mitchell (D-Me.) is eligible for an $84,595 pension beginning in January.

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