Republican House hopeful Ron DeSantis has vowed, in an interview with Newsmax, that he will forego his congressional pension if he is elected in November.
DeSantis, who is trying to win a seat in Florida, said he wants to lead by example and believes it is time that pensions are stripped from the lucrative pay and benefits system that elected representatives get.
He also said members of Congress should be paid based on performance. “If Congress adds 5 percent to the debt, then their pay should be cut by 5 percent,” he suggested.
“Harry Reid and the Senate haven’t passed a budget. Their pay should be reduced until they do,” he said.
DeSantis, 33, is hoping to gain the Republican nomination for Florida’s 6th Congressional District, which stretches from south of Jacksonville down to Daytona Beach. The redrawn seat is expected to be a GOP stronghold. His main opponent for the nomination is former Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse CEO Craig Miller, who is nearly twice DeSantis’ age. A primary is set for Aug. 14.
DeSantis, an Iraq War veteran who was a Navy Judge Advocate, said he believes his youth and inexperience — this is his first attempt at elected office — will be an advantage against a man making his third bid for office after failing to get the GOP nomination in runs at both the House and Senate.
“It’s a huge plus,” he said. “I have been going around the district talking to grass-roots groups, whose membership tends to skew older, and they appreciate a guy from the next generation stepping forward, who holds the principles that are so important to this country and are consistent with the beliefs of our Founding Fathers.”
DeSantis married Jacksonville TV host Casey Black in September 2009. They “do not yet have children,” he said. Despite his young age, he is already a published author. His book, “Dreams From Our Founding Fathers: First Principles in the Age of Obama,” came out last year.
He said he supports term limits for members of Congress. Ideally he would like a four-term limit for the House and two terms in the Senate. “That would give someone a maximum of 20 years in Washington; that should be enough for anyone,” he said.
He said the only reason the Founding Fathers did not impose term limits from the start is that they did not believe anyone would want to stay in government that long.
“Washington was a swamp. It was not somewhere that they believed people would want to go, so the idea was that people got involved as a public service, not to make a career out of it.
“But now politicians can get really wealthy, they have perks and rules that just do not apply to everyone else. We are supposed to all be equal before the law, but we have a separate and distinct ruling class and that is wrong.”
And even when politicians leave Congress, there are so many ways to make money that pensions are unnecessary, he said. “Congress writes 2,000-page laws full of bureaucracy and regulations, and businesses can’t understand what is going on. They need someone who can navigate through this wreckage — who better than the people that created it? That’s why so many get hired.”
DeSantis said he accepts that sitting members of Congress should be grandfathered in on both pensions and term limits, but new members — including, he hopes, himself — should have to abide by new rules.
“Take Barney Frank,” he said, referring to the ultra-liberal representative from Massachusetts who is retiring this year after 16 terms. “Think of how much damage could have been averted if he had been limited to just four terms.”
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