Short Chat With Rep. Richard Nugent (R-FL-05)
Promoted from diaries. – Moe Lane
Full disclosure. I did not support Richard Nugent during the primary of 2010. I spoke out against him and supported Jason Sager. However he won. The voters spoke.
Half-way between the primary and general election, we got to meet face-to-face and we buried the hachet like two adult men (or at least I did). I knew he was going to win the general election, so I more or less told him that I look forward to him winning me over. I’ve been in semi-contact with his group of people. So when he came to Lake County to visit his constituents, I asked if he could take at least two minutes of his time and give me a short interview and he agreed:
I have to say, he’s winning me over slowly but surely.
We both agree that getting involved in Libya is a bad idea. Even if nothing happens further and Gaddafi is kicked out, I think this sets a very bad precedent.
Rep. Nugent no longer supports the moratorium and he still supports nuclear. Great.
Nice suprised, someone asked about the Fair Tax and he supports it as well. Awesome.
When I was filing all of the employment paperwork prior to being sworn in as a Congressman, I was shocked to learn that I was not permitted to decline the Congressional pension. I was able to decline federally funded health insurance, but not the pension. Apparently, under current law, I am required to take it whether I like it or not.
In my opinion, my career was in law enforcement – not in Washington. The health insurance and the retirement benefits I get shouldn’t be any different from any other retiree from the Sheriff’s office just because I’m a member of Congress now. Under current law, that is not a principle I am allowed to live by and I don’t think that’s right.
After consulting with legal experts, I confirmed that the law will need to be changed to allow me to decline Congressional retirement benefits and today, I have introduced legislation that would allow me to do that.
The bill would allow members of Congress to opt out of the Congressional pension, as well as the federal match to their deferred compensation plan – commonly known as the TSP. I don’t have a problem with contributing a portion of my salary to a deferred compensation plan. That is a standard practice across industries and for somebody my age, it’s a responsible thing to do. But under current law, if I decide to contribute my own money to my retirement, I have to accept a full taxpayer-funded match up to 5% of my salary. Worse yet, even if I don’t contribute, the federal government is going to put in one percent of my salary anyway. Most men and women in the military don’t get a federal match like this. How can I look my three boys in the eye, all of whom are serving in the Army, and say ‘my service is more valuable than yours – that’s why I get a match to my TSP and you don’t’?
This is a very personal decision for my wife and me. Opting out of federal health benefits is costing us $9,000 extra per year. The pension and the nine grand in insurance savings would be nice to have, but we just don’t think that’s right. Our goal isn’t to impose our views on anybody else, I just think elected officials ought to have the right to decide for themselves. That’s what this bill allows us to do.
Since the demand on his time is great (and it was going on 9PM when I did the video interview), I thought I let his press release statement do most of the talking.
Also, the text of the bill is short, sweet, and to the point. “Brevity” was key when writing this bill. Honestly, I think his statement is longer than the bill itself. So I support this bill and I suggest you call your reps in congress to also support it.
Also something he said during the Town Hall meeting that I didn’t get on video, is that he likes what is coming out from Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget that is being crafted. Nugent is warming up to the principles of Ryan’s Roadmap and is more than willing to work with him in order to make sure they are followed. As a big supporter of the Roadmap, I am happy to see Nugent warm-up to it.
Rep. Nugent also talked about a possible government shut-down. He noted that he does not believe that the shut-down will hurt Republicans and he’s willing to use it, but that he only wants to use it as an option of last resort. Nugent inform the group that the CBO told Republicans that it would cost more to score a shut-down than any savings we get out of a shut-down. I agree that a shut-down should be option of last resort, good call.
While I am warming up to Richard Nugent, I am still going to keep a critial eye on the congressman. So far, he’s lived up to his promise of being a conservative and I am more than willing to help him as long as he stays on that path. Everything about “Congress Is Not A Career Act” is refreshing and I want to spread the word about it to as many people as I can.