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Congressman Blum’s September 2017 Mailbag

September 30, 2017
From U.s. 1st District Rep. Rod Blum - R-Dubuque , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Do Members of Congress really receive their full salary as a pension after serving only one term? Judy from Cedar Rapids on Facebook

The Congressional pension plan is one I have long regarded as a "Cadillac" plan and one that needs to end. Toward that end, I was an original cosponsor of H.R. 322, the EPIC (End Pensions in Congress) Act, a bill that if passed would put an end to the pension plan. With pension programs in the private sector declining, I see no reason whatsoever why taxpayers should continue to pay for the pension of Federal lawmakers after they have retired.

To your original question, and contrary to what has been stated in various chain e-mails, members of Congress do not receive their full salary after a single term in office. By law, it cannot exceed more than 80 percent of member's final salary, and under the current formula, it would take many decades of being in Congress to reach that amount.

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1st District Rep. Rod Blum

Regardless of the amount, with families struggling to make ends meet it does not make sense to me why those families should have money taken out of their paycheck to go toward the retirement funds for members of Congress that make $174,000 a year.

I saw that you did not have any public town halls in the August Recess, how did you hear from constituents about their concerns? Tom from Cedar Falls via Email

A few months ago we held some of the biggest townhalls Iowa has ever seen. Over 4,000 constituents attended evening townhalls over 4 days in the 4 largest cities in the first district. I listened very respectfully to all of the questions and comments. I also tried to answer each question but was typically shouted down. The impact was that most attendees could not hear my answers. After the events were finished, I heard from many constituents that the town halls were not a productive use of time for anyone involved. Unfortunately, organized political groups disrupted the events, and we were not able to have a productive dialogue amongst all the shouting.

Dating back to my first month in office, I have made it a priority to travel the district extensively and meet with Iowans of every walk of life and background. Whether it is visiting charities, hospitals, touring small businesses, riding along with fire and police departments, or meeting with advocacy groups I value each and every one of the conversations I have with my constituents. I also enjoy working alongside my constituents: I have delivered mail and UPS packages, cooked and waited tables in a diner, waited on customers as a teller in financial institutions and delivered Meals on Wheels to name a few.

I have also put tens of thousands of miles on our family vehicle traveling the district and have met thousands of eastern Iowans. That's one of the parts of the job I enjoy the most. Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook - we post most of our travels throughout the district on those social media sites. Our Twitter handle is @RepRodBlum and our Facebook page is @CongressmanRodBlum.

Why did you support the Debt Limit Increase, why aren't politicians in Washington taking this more seriously? Andy from Waukon via Twitter

I agree 100% with you on the need for Congress to get serious about the biggest threat to our nation: our national debt which will hurt our long-term economic prosperity.

But instead of a standalone debt limit bill that could have included much-needed spending reforms, the DC political establishment combined a short-term debt limit increase with the hurricane relief bill. That's politics as usual in Washington. I was forced to choose between a short-term increase in the debt limit OR helping the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

I detest this kind of political game, whereby our own nation's citizens - who are victims of natural disasters - are used as bargaining chips in order to continue a disastrous fiscal policy in other areas. Northeast Iowa has seen devastating flooding over the last decade, and I fully support funding to help in the mitigation and recovery of the natural disasters taking place now along the Gulf Coast, as well as for funding for critical flood prevention projects in the 1st District.

I eventually voted 'yes' because those impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma should not suffer because of the repeated failures of career politicians in Washington.

I also believe that any type of disaster relief spent by the federal government should be PAID FOR by offsets targeting waste, fraud, and abuse in other areas of the federal budget. If we want our nation to be in the position to afford funding for FEMA, flood walls, and hurricane recovery - now and in the future - we must begin to take the hard necessary votes to control our 20 trillion dollar debt that will be passed on to our children and grandchildren. I will continue to be a voice reminding my colleagues of the seriousness of our nation's debt.

All the best,

Rod Blum

Rod Blum is the Republican Congressman from Iowa's 1st District. He is a member of the Oversight and Small Business Committees and chair of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade.



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