They're special of course. You've always known that. Members of Congress, who write the laws that govern the rest of us, are sometimes able to devise the nicest breaks that, strangely enough, apply only to themselves. This special treatment often goes unnoticed at first and usually is aimed at making life a little more hassle- free for the beneficiaries.
The equal employment laws are a good example. Private industry and the executive branch of government are forbidden to discriminate in hiring and promotion on account of race, religion, sex and age. This entails a lot of record keeping and exposes employers to potentially expensive litigation. But they don't worry about those laws up on the Hill because congressional offices are exempt.
Another of our favorite congressional perks is the free and convenient parking lot at National Airport. Legislators didn't even need a statute to win this privilege -- just the clout that goes with having the appropriations power. The rest of us routinely miss planes and haul baggage after being consigned to the dismal swamp that is the Satellite 3 lot halfway to Mount Vernon. But if you have a congressional plate, you can just slip into the VIP lot without all the fuss and bother of a commute from your car to the terminal. It must be nice.
This week, diligent combers through the 1,363- page Ways and Means Committee tax bill found another lulu. Under present law, most retirees, including all former federal employees, can collect all their own contributions to a pension fund before beginning to pay income tax on those pensions. The bill would change this by requiring retirees to pay tax on part of their pensions right from the beginning. Once again, there's an exception for elected members of Congress and their staffs. It isn't spelled out forthrightly in the bill but accomplished by creating an exemption only for those employees who choose to belong to a pension plan. If you guessed that the only federal employees who have any choice about joining the pension plan are elected members of Congress and their staffs, you would be right.
This greedy fiddling with the tax laws so as to benefit the drafters themselves has no justification whatever and an unusually high odor. The Senate should take this provision out of the bill; members of Congress should pay at the same rate and on the same schedule as everybody else.