CORRECTION AND CLARIFICATION

The letter published on the April 26 Opinion page contained inaccurate claims about Congress. The claims are part of what’s described as “viral e-mail” that began circulating in 2011 with the title Congressional Reform Act.
Its claims have been debunked by the non-partisan and widely respected FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center.
The full text of FactCheck’s repudiation of the claims in the e-mail hoax is available at http://www.factcheck.org/2011/03/congressional-reform-act.
The Daily Journal regrets publishing inaccurate information.
FactCheck.org reports about the claims:
• “Demands that members of Congress be forced to ‘participate in Social Security.’ But members of Congress already participate … Congress were brought under Social Security way back in 1984.’”
• Urges that “ ‘Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose.’ … A law enacted in 1995 applied 13 civil rights, labor, and workplace safety and health laws to Congress, removing the basis for earlier criticisms. It’s true that members … retain a degree of immunity from arrest or prosecution, but changing that requires an amendment to the Constitution, which grants that immunity in Article I, Section 6.
• “Recommends that ‘Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.’ But Congress doesn’t do that now. Under current law, pay increases are determined by a cost-of-living formula, and they take effect automatically, unless Congress votes to stop them …
• “Calls for stripping members of Congress of their current health care benefits and forcing them to participate ‘in the same health care system as the American people.’ … Currently members of Congress have the same health insurance options as millions of other federal employees …”
• “Urges that members of Congress should ‘purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.’ But relatively few Americans buy retirement plans entirely out of their own pockets. In fact, just under half of all Americans worked in 2009 for an employer that sponsors a retirement plan …’”
• The author of this message advocates setting 12-year term limits on members of Congress … It also calls for voiding ‘all contracts’ with past and present members of Congress, which may be a clumsy way of calling for cutting off all pension and health care benefits even for those who have already retired. … Those are all opinions, with which readers may choose to agree or disagree. We take no position either way.”
Brooks Jackson
factcheck.org