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Boyda bill strips pensions from corrupt politicians

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Here are today's headlines from the Kansas congressional delegation:Rep. Nancy Boyda (D)![][1][(Chicago Tribune) House votes to expand pension forfeiture:][2] At least a dozen former members of Congress have felony convictions on their records but are still receiving taxpayer-funded pensions, and the House thinks that's a crime. On Tuesday, it voted unanimously to strip future lawbreakers of their public retirement benefits upon conviction of official wrongdoing, including bribery and conspiring with foreign interests. "In the past few years, America's faith in Congress has been undermined by scandal after scandal," said Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-Kan.), sponsor of the House measure. "I find it absurd that the politicians behind those scandals are still eligible for congressional pensions. ... This bill is a major step toward restoring the public trust in Congress."[(New York Times) Rep. Boyda Achieves Victory in Kansas' 2nd District Out of Nowhere:][3] Boyda's 51 percent to 47 percent win over Ryun rates as one of the year's biggest upsets. That, in turn, has earned the 51-year-old Boyda a spot high up on the preliminary 2008 target lists drawn by national Republican strategists, who note that President Bush cruised with 59 percent of the 2004 vote in the conservative-leaning eastern Kansas district. Democratic leaders, though, have moved quickly to address Boyda's potential vulnerability. She received assignments to the Agriculture and Armed Services committees, appointments that could carry political heft in a district that is home to sprawling farms and two major Army bases. There is little doubt that the DCCC will keep a close eye on Boyda and offer a helping hand going into 2008. But Boyda, who distanced herself somewhat from the national party and its liberal reputation during her 2006 bid, insists that she will run an independent campaign again in 2008.Sen. Sam Brownback (R) ![][4][(Hollywood Reporter) TV sticks on Brownback's plate:][5] He might be a presidential candidate, but that doesn't mean Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, is giving up his TV-content campaign. On Tuesday, the lawmaker announced the first meeting of a public-private task force examining whether TV makes American kids unhealthy. "I am concerned about links between media, advertising and children's health, but I do not necessarily think that more government regulation is the answer," Brownback said. "I'm hopeful that this task force will forge a voluntary, public-private partnership to effectively address the pressing issue of media and child health." The candidate for the GOP presidential nomination and FCC chairman Kevin Martin first announced the formation of the Media and Childhood Obesity: Today and Tomorrow task force in September.[(The Hill) DeLay warns former colleagues against endorsing presidential hopefuls early:][6] As GOP presidential contenders scramble to cast themselves as conservatives to appeal to primary voters, former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) yesterday cautioned right-leaning Republican lawmakers against endorsing a candidate with nearly two years to go before the election. ... Despite the early politicking, DeLay is waiting to throw his support behind the "right" candidate, yet noted that Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are his "two personal favorites" in the field of GOP presidential contenders. "Ronald Reagan raised taxes with a Democratic Congress," DeLay said. "I've known Gov. Huckabee for 25 years, and he is a complete conservative. Both he and Brownback are fiscal and cultural conservatives and they believe it down to the depths of their souls."[(High Plains Journal) Senators Seek to Block IRS CRP Move:][7] A bi-partisan group of U.S. senators is asking the IRS to reverse its proposed rule that would force landowners to pay self-employment taxes on Conservation Reserve Program payments. Farmers nationally received $1.8 billion in CRP payments in 2006. Under the IRS rule, those CRP payments would be subject to 15.3 percent self-employment taxes. Since 1986, CRP payments have been treated as rental income, which is not subject to self-employment taxes. The IRS determined in 2003 that a landowner with acreage in the CRP must meet certain requirements of working the land, which translates into a "material participation" and meets the requirement of a trade or business. The IRS issued a proposed rule in December to formalize its decision. On Friday, Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Sam Brownback, R-Kan., led a group of senators who wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson and IRS Commissioner Mark Everson asking them to rescind the proposed rule. The letter also included signatures of the Senate chairmen of the Finance, Budget and Agriculture committees as well. Sen. Pat Roberts (R)![][8][(AP) Roberts' child care legislation included in minimum wage bill:][9] A measure to improve access to child care that Sen. Pat Roberts has been pushing for more than a decade is closer than ever to becoming law. The Senate agreed Tuesday to include the Kansas Republican's legislation in its version of a bill to increase the minimum wage. Roberts' plan would provide incentives to small businesses to offer child care for employees with children. The measure is one of several incentives and tax breaks meant to soften the impact of a minimum wage hike on small businesses.Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R)![][10][(Washington Post) Fenty, Other Mayors Decry Gun Trafficking:][11] Mayor Adrian M. Fenty joined counterparts from New York, Boston and more than 50 other cities yesterday in demanding federal help to halt the trafficking of illegal guns. Fenty (D), speaking at a news conference held by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition, said local laws are not sufficient to fight the use of illegal weapons. ... The mayors said their top priority is to fight legislation pushed by U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) that restricts public access to federal data that trace the possession of guns. They were joined yesterday by a congressional task force headed by Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.). The task force members vowed to help the mayors oppose the so-called Tiahrt amendment and other legislation that prevents cities and law enforcement authorities from tracking illegal guns.State of the Union[(AP) Kansas lawmakers skeptical, cautious on Bush plans:][12] Republican Sen. Pat Roberts warned that Bush's domestic proposals may languish as long as Americans remain skeptical about his management of the war in Iraq. ... Republican Sen. Sam Brownback said he remains firmly opposed to sending more forces, despite Bush's argument that failure in Iraq would lead to a haven for terrorists. ... Even Republican Rep. Todd Tiahrt, typically a staunch defender of the president, expressed concerns about Bush's plan to increase U.S. troop levels in Iraq. But he stressed the need to win the conflict as part of the overall global war on terror. ... "In the name of expanding health coverage, President Bush wants to raise our health care taxes," Boyda said. ... Republican Rep. Jerry Moran called Bush's focus on renewable sources of energy "a beacon of hope" for national security and a revival of Kansas' rural economy. ... Democratic Rep. Dennis Moore commended Bush for pledging to work in a bipartisan manner. [1]: http://www.actblue.com/images/entities/9536.gif [2]: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0701240051jan24,1,7824014.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed [3]: http://www.nytimes.com/cq/2007/01/23/cq_2172.html [4]: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/fr/thumb/c/c8/Sam_Brownback.jpg/150px-Sam_Brownback.jpg [5]: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/television/news/e3ia674a4eb4d4077c05e457fadecbcfe4c [6]: http://www.hillnews.com/thehill/export/TheHill/News/Frontpage/012407/delay.html [7]: http://www.hpj.com/dtnnewstable.cfm?type=story&sid=18238 [8]: http://roberts.senate.gov/Roberts-020405-18060-080-CFFflipped.jpg [9]: http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/news/nation/16528482.htm [10]: http://gala.ntdtv.com/2006/en/vips/i/ks_todd_tiahrt.jpg [11]: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/23/AR2007012301318.html [12]: http://www.macon.com/mld/macon/news/politics/16529624.htm

Comments

captain_poindexter 7 years, 8 months ago

uh, what, boyda? in the name of expanding health coverage, he wants to raise our health care taxes? Where the hell did she get that?

Also, someone ask Boyda about Rep. Jefferson from LA who was reelected to Congress even though the Feds found $90,000 in bribe money in his freezer. What does she think about him?

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werekoala 7 years, 8 months ago

Because Bush wants to make the health insurance given by employers taxable. Helps if you pay attention, rather than trying to make cheap partisan shots.

Did you notice that she's got a bill in place to strip Jefferson of his pension after he's convicted?

Nancy Boyda rocks my world!

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preebo 7 years, 8 months ago

The interesting thing with this bill is that a congressperson convicted of tax evasion, or embezzling funds can still collect a pension. It also isn't retroactive, so Reps. like Duke Cunningham who were convicted on bribary charges can still collect their pensions on the taxpayers dime. In short, I liked the overall tone of the bill, but I would have liked to see it have more teeth. In my opinion, the bill didn't go far enough to clean up Congress.

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Ragingbear 7 years, 8 months ago

Making it retroactive is nearly impossible. Most would be Grandfathered in.

This new plan by the shrubbery to stick it to the lower working class by taxing their health care coverage only goes to show you that Bush is indeed working for the richest 2%.

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preebo 7 years, 8 months ago

BowHunter, you're absolutely right. However, it would appear that you are their leader.

I was refereing to the pension bill presented by Boyda, not the healthcare bill. Good try though.

Better luck next time.

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staff04 7 years, 8 months ago

BowHunter, the article that you posted a link to says right in it that it gets paid for through a tax hike on employer-based health insurance plans!

It amounts to more of the tax burden being shifted to the middle class, as usual.

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staff04 7 years, 8 months ago

preebo-

I agree that the bill could have had more teeth like, for example, including ESPIONAGE in the list of offenses that can cost you your pension, but I understand the fairness of keeping the list confined to offenses that are related to official duties only.

I definitely think that members of Congress should be held to a higher standard, but I don't think anyone (Congress or not)should lose their pension for conviction of a felony not related to their job.

On the other hand, imagine how much money the gubment would save if they stripped pensions from postal workers convicted of felonies...

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Jamesaust 7 years, 8 months ago

This all very impressive but frankly makes no more difference than if Congress had provided for the death penalty for corrupt Congressmen. Hanging people higher doesn't make them any more dead.

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Jamesaust 7 years, 8 months ago

I believe we can all forgive Bowhunter99 -

the President was very careful in his speech to not mention that there will be a tax to pay for all this placed on health care plans that provide 'too much' health coverage. Something like 30 million Americans have generous health plans.

The Democrat (ooops! Democratic) response is predictible: A. We should be dragging people up to generous health coverage not forcing people down to a low denominator; B. George W. Bush just proposed a tax increase on the middle class (are there any conservatives left in the GOP?).

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nekansan 7 years, 8 months ago

What would stop a US attorney from filing civil charges and suing these corrupt politicians for the damage they have caused? They might still receive their pension, but would then be required to pay damages to the nation who's trust they betrayed and reimburse us for the monetary damages along with some punitive $$ as well.

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mom_of_three 7 years, 8 months ago

Boyda's bill is a step in the right direction.
Wonder why no one thought of it sooner??

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KS 7 years, 8 months ago

I sort of think I agree with Boyda on this one. I can't believe I just said that. Any crook, politician or not, should not be able to retain benefits received in the course of committing the crime.

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feeble 7 years, 8 months ago

It's really not Boyda's bill. Rather, the party leaders have given her the "honor" of sponsoring the measure. So while her name is attached to it, it is not necessarily a product of her officel.

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Emily Hadley 7 years, 8 months ago

You guys are really quick to know what isn't included! It is going to take me a week to get through matching up every reference to sections of title 18 with the actual code.

HR 476: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c110:2:./temp/~c110j91w7a::

Title 18 Code: http://uscode.house.gov/download/title_18.shtml

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staff04 7 years, 8 months ago

Given that EVERY bill that comes to the floor is essentially a product of the leadership giving the member the honor of having their name attached to it, that statement doesn't really mean much...

I have seen instances where one member will introduce a bill that leadership thinks is a good idea but doesn't like the member. They will find someone that they DO like and have that person introduce an identical bill with a different name as the sponsor--the favorite is the one that gets voted on.

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staff04 7 years, 8 months ago

Emily- You just gotta know the right sources. Here's the summary from Congressional Quarterly:

"SUMMARY: As part of the motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, the floor manager will offer an amended version of the bill that expands the list of covered offenses and prevents the measure from applying to convictions until after this Congress. Following is a summary of the bill expected to be considered by the House.

This bill denies members of Congress who commit certain felonies during their time in office from being eligible for collecting the federal pensions earned while a member. The bill extends to representatives, senators, delegates, the resident commissioner and the vice president, who participate in either the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or the Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS), and it amends the portions of current law dealing with both of those systems.

Under the bill, such members would lose the government portion of their pension - but would remain eligible to receive their lump-sum credit contributions, such as their payments to the retirement system or those made to their thrift savings plans (TSPs). In addition, such members would be ineligible for future participation in the pension system after the date of their final conviction.

Covered Felonies

Current law blocks individuals who commit certain crimes, such as treason or espionage-related crimes, from receiving their federal government pensions. This bill similarly denies pensions to members of Congress guilty of the following offenses, to the extent they are felonies under current law:

Bribery of public officials and witnesses;

Officers or employees acting as agents of foreign principals;

Conspiracy relating to bribery or acting as a foreign agent;

Conspiracy relating to post-employment restrictions on former members, such as the one-year ban on lobbying after leaving Congress;

Perjury relating to any of these offenses; and

Subornation of perjury (i.e., inducing another person to commit perjury on a person's behalf) regarding these offenses.
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staff04 7 years, 8 months ago

...cont...

" Under the bill, any such offense would have to occur during a member's service and would have to be related to the member's official duties.

Effective Date

The bill applies to offenses that occur after the date of enactment, meaning that former Reps. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., and Jim Traficant, D-Ohio, would continue to receive their pensions since their offenses occurred prior to enactment. (There are constitutional issues regarding the retroactive denial of pension benefits, as such a measure could constitute an "ex post facto" law, which is prohibited by the Constitution.)

OPM Regulations

The bill directs the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to issue the regulations necessary to implement the legislation. It directs that these regulations include provisions under which payments of the interest earned on lump-sum contributions could be limited in manners similar to those under current law.

It also requires the OPM regulations to include provisions that would allow payments to spouses and children under certain circumstances. (The Justice Department has similar authority under current law for federal employees whose pensions are denied, which is intended to ensure that innocent spouses and children are protected from undue hardship.)

CBO Cost Estimate

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) had not provided a cost estimate for the bill as of press time. In its cost estimates for the lobbying and ethics overhaul bill considered by the House last year, CBO estimated that any savings in direct spending resulting from this provision would not be significant, because CBO expects that the number of violations would be small."
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preebo 7 years, 8 months ago

Ex Post Facto deals with convictions. Losing your pension is not a conviction, but rather lose of an entitlement, which is allowable under the Constitution. There are instances where legislation has been applied retroactively in the past. Congressional pay raises for one.

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preebo 7 years, 8 months ago

...another piece of legislation that has been applied retroactively was campaign finance disclosure, which was brought about by McCain - Feingold a few years ago.

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Lisia 7 years, 8 months ago

Why didn't the article on Boyda ever make the print version of the LJW?

I understand they have limited space but I don't understand how following the career of the representative that we in the 2nd district elected wouldn't be of interest to us.

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