About 90 members from both chambers collected a government pension atop their taxpayer-financed $174,000 salary in 2012, National Journal found in an examination of recent financial records. Including a dozen newly elected freshmen who reported government pensions last year, the number now stands above 100. That's nearly one-fifth of Congress. One lawmaker, freshman Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, received $253,323 from her government pension last year—a sum that, combined with her congressional salary, will make her better paid than President Obama this year.
Congressional pensioners span the ideological spectrum, from tea-party conservatives who rail against government waste to unabashed liberals. They are among the richest members (Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., with a net worth of at least $42.8 million in 2011) and the poorest (Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., who reported between $15,000 and $50,000 in the bank and at least $600,000 in mortgage and loan debts). Overall, Democrats draw government pensions more often than Republicans—by a ratio of 2-to-1. Some lawmakers draw on multiple public retirement packages, including the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, John Cornyn of Texas, who collected $65,000 from three different pensions in 2012.
All told, current members of Congress pocketed more than $3.6 million in public retirement benefits in 2012, the investigation found. The actual figure is almost certainly even higher because disclosure is uneven.
In this week's National Journal, Shane Goldmacher investigates Congressional double-dipping. Get inside the story with the author himself in this video.