John R. Houk
© July 25, 2017
I became a recipient of a Chain Email that has been circulating for some years. The Leftist fact checkers who have I have little trust for have debunking posts circa 2011. As far as the Conservative perspective goes I trust TruthORFiction.com. Truth or Fiction purposely presents their website in a retro format for reasons I am unclear.
The purpose of the Chain Email I received is to promote a 28th Amendment that makes members of Congress accountable to the same rule of law as every American citizen is. Before a reading of a single paragraph of this 28th Amendment the email provides examples of alleged improprieties that members of Congress and their families receive that Americans do not receive.
According to Truth Or Fiction the Chain Email is total poppycock. Here is a debunking excerpt:
Summary of eRumor:
A chain email says that children of members of Congress and their staffers have their student loans forgiven.
The email also says that 35 governors have sued for a 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would limit federal power.
Both of these claims are false.
There is a Student Loan Repayment Program in place to help attract and retain federal employees, but it does not extend to family members. Elected officials, uniform service members and other government employees are eligible under the law.
Federal employees can have up to $10,000 in federally insured student loans repaid each year, and up to $60,000 repaid over their career, the Office of Personnel Management reports.
And the federal government does not forgive these loans, as the eRumor claims. The loans are repaid. That’s important because it means federal employees have to pay taxes on loan payments just like the rest of their salaries.
In 2013, $52.9 million in student loan repayments were made for 7,314 federal employees, the Office of Personnel and Management reports.
The email’s claim that 35 governors had sued the U.S. government for a 28th amendment is also false. The email says that the proposed 28th amendment would state:
“Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators, Representatives of Congress; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States…”
Both versions of the eRumor said that 35 governors had signed onto a petition for a constitutional convention to create the 28th amendment, but that’s not true.
At last count, three states had tried to force a constitutional convention. Resolutions in Kansas, Georgia and Indiana sought to balance state and federal power, the Huffington Post reports.
And under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, 34 states have to pass a resolution on the same subject to force a constitutional convention — not 38 states, as the eRumor claims.
… READ THE REST (Children of Congress Members Don’t Pay Back Student Loans-Fiction! 35 Governors Have Sued the Federal Government to Create 28th Amendment-Fiction!)
And yet there are actual special benefits for members of Congress that the rest of us American citizens are not privy to. All the perks of the chain email simply don’t exist especially in 2017. Even though members of Congress make less than the private sector with more responsibilities, retirement benefits kick in according to time served and when reach a certain age:
Members of Congress are not eligible for a pension until they reach the age of 50, but only if they’ve completed 20 years of service. Members are eligible at any age after completing 25 years of service or after they reach the age of 62. Please also note that Members of Congress have to serve at least 5 years to even receive a pension.
The amount of a congressperson’s pension depends on the years of service and the average of the highest 3 years of his or her salary. By law, the starting amount of a Member’s retirement annuity may not exceed 80% of his or her final salary. (Salaries and Benefits of US Congress Members: The Truth; By Robert Longley; ThoughtCo.com; Updated 3/12/17)
As of 2014 members of Congress are tied into the same Obamacare health insurance rules as all of us according to Thoughtco.com (Ibid.). Read the CNN explanation of how Obamacare insurance exchanges works for Congress and their staff: How do Congress’ lawmakers get health care? By Ashley Killough; CNN [aka Communist News Network]; 7/18/17 Updated 7:19 AM ET)
Too bad the chain email didn’t address actual Congressional perks that We the People do not receive.
Senate Expense Account
The Senators’ Official Personnel and Office Expense Account (SOPOEA) is available to assist Senators in their official and representational duties. The allowance is provided for the fiscal year. The preliminary list of SOPOEA levels contained in the Senate report accompanying the FY2017 legislative branch appropriations bill shows an average allowance $3,306,570 per Senator. (Screw Obamacare, ‘We the People’ Want Everything Congress Has; By Lori; GlenBeck.com; 7/25/17)
Senate Furniture Expense
Each Senator is authorized $40,000 for state office furniture and furnishings for one or more offices, if the aggregate square footage of office space does not exceed 5,000 square feet. The base authorization is increased by $1,000 for each authorized additional incremental increase in office space of 200 square feet. (Ibid.)
House Personnel and Office Expense
Members of the House receive a $250,000 budget for travel and office expenses. (Ibid.)
Special Class Beneficial Treatment
Members of Congress have long been treated as a special class with lifelong access to members-only parking spaces, elevators, dining rooms and exercise facilities (unless they become a lobbyist).
Grooming and Fitness Amenities
- Taxpayer-funded, members-only gym
- Taxpayer-funded, members-only salon
- Taxpayer-funded, members-only barbershop
Taxpayer-funded, members-only tennis court (Ibid.)
Staff schedulers often times make reservations for members of Congress via dedicated phone lines that Delta and other major airlines have reportedly set up for Capitol Hill customers. Airlines also permit members to reserve seats on multiple flights but only pay for the trips they take.
Free parking at the two Washington-area airports (At a rate of $22 per day, that represents almost $740,000 in forgone revenue annually for Reagan National). (Ibid.)
If Congress Member dies, Family Benefit
Family members of those in Congress who die, typically receive a full year’s salary as compensation ($174K). (Ibid.)
As to the 28th Amendment in the Chain Email, no such Amendment has even proposed in Congress nor has any State every tried to suggest a convened Constitutional Convention on the matter of equalizing Congressional benefits with American citizen benefits.
Some discerning Conservatives believe the Federal usurpation of power has exceeded the design of the Framers of the Constitution. These Conservatives believe Congress is too hamstringed to reverse the despotism of excessive Federal power over the We the People where the Founding Fathers believed power should reside. In this view the best Constitutional method of restoring power to the people is based in Article 5 of the Constitution:
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.
– Article V, U.S. Constitution (From ConventionOfStates.com/Solution)
I as well lean toward a Constitutional Convention. But there is no surprise the American Left is not in big favor of a Convention. There are also Conservatives that fear a Convention not because they don’t recognize the problem of excessive Federal Power, rather these Conservatives fear an out of control Convention which the American Left may prevail potentially making the threat to American Liberty worse than the Dems and Leftist activist Courts already have.
This excerpt relays the fears:
Many people have voiced concern over the convention method of amending the Constitution. Our only experience with a national constitutional convention took place 200 years ago. At that time the delegates took it upon themselves to ignore the reason for calling the convention, which was merely to improve the Articles of Confederation. The Founding Fathers also violated the procedure for changing the Articles of Confederation. Instead of requiring approval of all the state legislatures, the signers of the Constitution called for ratification by elected state conventions in only nine of the 13 states.
Another point of anxiety is that Article V of the Constitution says nothing about what a convention may or may not do. If a convention is held, must it deal with only one proposed amendment? Or could the delegates vote on any number of amendments that were introduced? The Constitution itself provides no answers to these questions.
Howard Jarvis, the late leader of the conservative tax revolt in California during the 1970s, opposed a convention. He stated that a convention “would put the Constitution back on the drawing board, where every radical crackpot or special interest group would have the chance to write the supreme law of the land.”
Others, like Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, disagree with this viewpoint. Senator Hatch has said it is ironic when the people attempt to engage in “participatory democracy set forth by the Constitution, we are subject to doomsday rhetoric and dire predictions of domestic and international disaster.”
Of course, any amendments produced by a convention would still have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states. We may soon see how this never-used method works if the balanced budget people swing two more states over to their side. (Do We Need a New Constitutional Convention; Constitutional Rights Foundation)
Here is the Convention of States rebuttal to the fears:
Much of the opposition to an Article V convention hinges on fears of a “runaway convention.” Convention opponents frequently argue that a convention is inherently unlimited and once it convenes it cannot be restricted in any way. …
The text of the Constitution itself clearly indicates that a convention can be limited in at least some ways. For instance, a convention under Article V is limited to “proposing amendments.” It is essentially a recommendatory body: it cannot ratify its own proposals. Thus, even an “unlimited” convention is limited in this critical respect, which prevents rash or unpopular amendments from becoming part of the Constitution.
Further, Article V specifies that certain topics are off-limits for a convention (and for Congress) to consider. The last portion of the article takes certain provisions relating to the import of slaves off the table until 1808, and forbids any amendment that deprives the states of equal representation in the Senate. There can be no question that certain topics are off-limits for a convention, since Article V itself imposes those limitations. That states legislatures may further limit the authority of a convention is shown by the historical practice and purpose behind Article V.
In short, the text of Article V, the history and purpose behind it, plus Congress’s own inaction, all indicate that an Article V convention can be limited to a particular topic or set of topics. Our Founders knew what they were doing when they voted unanimously to put the convention provision in Article V.10 A convention is not some all-powerful body with authority to unilaterally scrap our Constitution, though convention opponents often represent it in that light. It is a limited-purpose committee intended to give the states the ability to propose particular amendments that Congress never would. As such, the state legislatures can impose binding subject-matter restraints on the convention to ensure that it does not run away. (A Single-Subject Convention; By Robert Kelly, J.D.1 [1. Mr. Kelly is a practicing attorney and a member of the California Bar. He currently serves as General Counsel for Citizens for Self-Governance.]; Convention of States pdf)
Frankly I can think of some more important issues for the 28th Amendment of the Chain Email. The Left must submit to what made America great. The Left has done such an effective job of propagandizing their agenda that most Americans are not even aware of the Liberty and Freedom our Founding Fathers fought for against the British Crown despotism of the 1760s and 1770s. The witless supporters of the American Left have been slowly restoring Americans to the same despotism that led Thirteen British Colonies to demand Independence that eventually led to the U.S. Constitution of laws of We the People.
For those interested in the debunked Chain Email on the faux 28th Amendment, it is below.
Proposed 28th Amendment and Congress
Editor Received 7/25/17
Please read 28th amendment
Please Read, and forward. This will only take 1 minute to read!
28th Amendment, 35 States and Counting.
It will take you less than a minute to read this. If you agree, please pass it on. It’s an idea whose time has come to deal with this self-serving situation:
OUR PRESENT SITUATION!
Children of Congress members do not have to pay back their college student loans.
Staffers of Congress family members are also exempt from having to pay back student loans.
Members of Congress can retire at full pay after only one term.
Members of Congress have exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed, under which ordinary citizens must live.
For example, they are exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment.
And as the latest example, they have exempted themselves from Healthcare Reform, in all of its aspects.
We must not tolerate an elite class of such people, elected as public servants and then putting themselves above the law.
I truly don’t care if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent, or whatever. The self-serving must stop.
Governors of 35 states have filed suit against the Federal Government for imposing unlawful burdens upon their states. It only takes 38 (of the 50) States to convene a Constitutional Convention.
Each person that receives this will forward it on to 20 people, in three days most people in The United States of America will have the message.
Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution:
“Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the Citizens of the United States …“
You are one of my 20.