Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Grinch Who Stole the Pay Raise

If you read Observer Washington correspondent Lisa Zagaroli's story Wednesday about the pensions that members of the N.C. congressional delegation will be eligible for when they leave office, no doubt you noted the curious case of U.S. Rep. Howard Coble, a Republican from Guilford County and a true skinflint.
I say that with some admiration. I've known Coble for decades and he's pretty tight with a buck -- his, yours or mine.
He didn't enroll in the congressional pension system, though by now it would have earned him a pension of about $65,000 a year after 24 years in the U.S. House. "It's a taxpayer ripoff," Coble told Zagaroli.
"I think the taxpayers probably should contribute to a modest pension, but this one is not modest. This is a lavish pension plan, vesting at five years and automatic cost of living (increases) worked into that."
When Coble was in the N.C. House of Representatives back in the 1970s, he was in the distinct minority on a lot of issues related to spending. He once sponsored a bill to stop a proposed legislative pay raise. My colleague the late Brent Hackney, then a Raleigh correspondent for the old Greensboro Daily News, wrote a story calling him The Grinch Who Stole the Pay Raise.
Coble, ham that he is, loved it. For years thereafter he reveled in the nickname -- and when he called his hometown paper to speak to one of us, he'd growl, "This is the Grinch."

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So - is Coble going to do something about it? Somebody up on the hill certainly needs to!

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Pete: By golly, you're right. In July, no less.
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So Jack, are you taking a que from the networks and running re-runs during the holiday?

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