A lie is halfway around the world before the truth is done lacing up its shoes, or so the saying goes. Social media has exacerbated this, and nowhere it is more evident than in the false information posted on Facebook about congressional health care, pensions, and vacation days.
The Congressional Institute tackled a number of myths on our blog (read “Busting Congressional Myths” here). We covered things like whether Members of Congress pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, if they have a free gym, and whether they have voted themselves a pay raise (spoiler: congressional member pay hasn’t changed in more than 10 years).
Since posting that blog, we have worked with some news organizations on fact checks. Institute President Mark Strand recently spoke with PolitiFact from The Poynter Institute regarding a Facebook post that’s making the rounds – again. PolitiFact notes that the post has been shared “thousands of times” and claims that congressional benefits include “Free health care, outrageous retirement packages, 67 paid holidays, three weeks paid vacation, unlimited paid sick days.” PolitiFact gave the post a “Mostly False” rating, saying that it “gets more details wrong than right.”
In talking with PolitiFact, Strand said “A lot of this stuff is an exaggeration.” He notes that Members of Congress are eligible for the same healthcare and pension plans as all federal employees. He also cautioned that “time away from Washington shouldn’t be confused with vacation” since much of that time is spent working in their districts or states during congressional recesses.
Much like our post separating myths from fact, the PolitiFact piece does a good job of explaining why that Facebook post is bunk. Read the PolitiFact here.