President Barack Obama could have been looking directly at Aurora Congressman Mike Coffman Tuesday when he said during his State of the Union Address:
Obama: "Some of the only people in America who are going to work the same job, in the same place, with a health and retirement package, for 30 years, are sitting in this chamber. For everyone else, especially folks in their forties and fifties, saving for retirement or bouncing back from job loss has gotten a lot tougher."
But Cofman is actually part of an even smaller number of lawmakers who've fought to abolish retirement packages, like the ones Members of Congress get, even though he's receiving a $55,000 retirement package (from the state of Colorado) while, at the same time, drawing a $174,000 salary as a U.S. Congressman.
As the National Journal's Shane Goldmacher reported in 2013 when Coffman was urging Members of Congress to give up their pensions:
If there's one thing I learned in both the United States Army and the Marine Corps about leadership, it was leading by example," Coffman lectured them, pointing to his chest at a committee hearing. "Never ask anyone to do anything that you yourself would not be willing to do."
What Coffman left unsaid that day in a speech about his bill's "symbolic" importance was that he was collecting a $55,547 state-government pension in addition to his congressional paycheck. Having spent two decades as an elected official in Colorado, he has received retirement benefits since 2009, the year he arrived in Congress.
But, Goldmacher asked Coffman later, doesn't the Aurora Congressman realize he's taking a defined-benefit penion, like the one he's opposing?
"I am," he told Goldmacher. "I am."
At the time, I hoped reporters would ask Coffman directly, does Coffman see any hypocrisy in his own actions? And if so, what does he think he should do about it?
No one asked him, but it's not too late.
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