Local Angle on SOTU Address: Coffman draws $174,000 salary while already taking $55,000 pension plus benefits

There’s a local angle on Obama’s comment last night that “some of the only people in America who are going to work the same job, in the same place, with a health and retirement package, for 30 years, are sitting in this chamber. For everyone else, especially folks in their forties and fifties, saving for retirement or bouncing back from job loss has gotten a lot tougher.”

The local connection was sitting in front of Obama in the form of Mike Coffman. He’s part of an even smaller number of people who’ve fought to abolish retirement packages, like the ones Members of Congress get, even though he’s receiving a $55,000 retirement package (from the state of Colorado) while, at the same time, drawing a $174,000 salary as a U.S. Congressman.

As the National Journal’s Shane Goldmacher reported in 2013 when Coffman was urging Members of Congress to give up their pensions:

If there’s one thing I learned in both the United States Army and the Mar­ine Corps about lead­er­ship, it was lead­ing by ex­ample,” Coff­man lec­tured them, point­ing to his chest at a com­mit­tee hear­ing. “Nev­er ask any­one to do any­thing that you your­self would not be will­ing to do.”

What Coff­man left un­said that day in a speech about his bill’s “sym­bol­ic” im­port­ance was that he was col­lect­ing a $55,547 state-gov­ern­ment pen­sion in ad­di­tion to his con­gres­sion­al paycheck. Hav­ing spent two dec­ades as an elec­ted of­fi­cial in Col­or­ado, he has re­ceived re­tire­ment be­ne­fits since 2009, the year he ar­rived in Con­gress.

But, Goldmacher asked Coffman later, doesn’t the Aurora Congressman realize he’s taking a defined-benefit penion, like the one he’s opposing?

“I am,” he told Goldmacher. “I am.”

At the time, I hoped reporters would ask Coffman directly, does Coffman see any hypocrisy in his own actions? And if so, what does he think he should do about it?

No one asked him, but it’s not too late.

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