Bonner’s sweet, sweet pension

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt July 24, 2013

Editor’s note: I’m from Alabama, but I live in Atlanta, Georgia. I occasionally get free meals, but I try not to enjoy them.

I’m going to take a wild guess that $65,000 a year is a nice salary for the average Joe in Alabama.

But Rep. Jo Bonner is no average Joe.

He’s a member of Congress, and worked as a staffer for Rep. Sonny Callahan before he was elected to his first term. As a federal employee, Rep. Bonner is entitled to a $65,000 a year pension. That’s 55 percent more than the average annual salary of Alabama voters. Now, most folks would be able to make $65,000 work just fine. But Rep. Bonner, we are told, is a man of rare and special gifts. We are told these gifts are worth the $350,000 per year the University of Alabama System will be paying him as a lobbyist.

Add that to his $65,000 pension and Bonner is making 1064 percent more than the average Alabamian.

I suppose pointing that out is what you’d call class warfare, but I like to think of it as congressional welfare.

Rep. Bonner has a pretty consistent record on pensions, but his views on social programs have evolved a bit.

According to statements I found on, Rep. Bonner believes food stamps and welfare are programs that are widely abused. He says they create dependency and reforms are needed. Pensions for federal workers are a totally different matter, however. In 2006, he wrote to constituents about the House passing the “Pension Protection Act.

Our current pension system is broken, and it was vital that we reform the outdated laws that have placed the pension benefits of so many Americans at risk.

The House bill will prevent taxpayers from having to bail out the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation because some companies have failed to adequately fund their pension plans.

Specifically, the Pension Protection Act: ensures employers properly and adequately fund their worker pension plans; requires companies to provide more information to workers about the status of their pension plans; and it makes commonsense modifications to defined contribution laws in order to encourage greater personal savings for retirement.

This pension reform bill strengthens the ability of Americans to save and invest for their retirement and provides workers with the retirement security they deserve.

In 2005, he wrote that the “Deficit Reduction Act” would protect pension benefits by “placing the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) on a more solid financial foundation and protecting taxpayers from the cost of a massive bailout.”

Rep. Bonner was in a considerably more generous mood in 2005. In addition to protecting pensions with the Deficit Reduction Act, Rep. Bonner also voted to add $1 billion to welfare programs and $1 billion in additional funding for a program to help pay heating bills for low income folks.

After the economic collapse, the man who is about to make 1064 percent more than the average Alabamian got a little stingier with the money for social programs, or to be more precise, food stamp money.

As recently as last month, well after he announced his resignation, Rep. Bonner mourned the defeat of a farm bill that included cuts to the food stamp program.

“Last week the House offered an opportunity to reform food stamps through the new Farm bill, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013,” he wrote. “The Farm bill hits abuse in food stamps head on by reinstating income and asset tests for food stamp eligibility; ending USDA bonus awards that effectively encourage states to increase food stamp rolls; ensuring illegal immigrants, lottery winners, traditional college students and the deceased do not receive benefits; and, by prohibiting the federal government from advertising food stamp benefits in foreign countries. These reforms and others in the new Farm bill were estimated to save over $20 billion in the SNAP program.”

So to review, Rep. Bonner has no problem taking a $65,000 pension and a $350,000 a year job at the University of Alabama System (where his sister works as a university president, but that’s just a coincidence and whatnot), but he’s concerned that people immigrating to the country illegally, college students and lottery winners might get a free meal on the taxpayers.

Well,  Rep. Bonner, I’m sure you’ll have many meals on my dime, but I won’t hold it against you. I highly recommend Dreamland, if you’ve never been.

Oh, in other news Rep. Bonner bumped up his resignation date to Aug. 2.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

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