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By Phil Piemonte

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Hooray, the debt ceiling has been raised!

So, what does that mean anyway? Let’s look at the first item in the president’s fact sheet on the bipartisan budget deal …

“[The deal] removes the cloud of uncertainty over our economy at this critical time, by ensuring that no one will be able to use the threat of the nation’s first default now, or in only a few months, for political gain.”

No surprise there—even a casual observer by now might agree that this, in a nutshell—vying for political advantage—is what the debt-ceiling debate really has been about.

While the part about removing “the cloud of uncertainty over our economy” may have some validity (many would disagree), the budget deal by all accounts in fact introduces a whole lot of new uncertainty somewhere else: the federal workplace.

Because the thrust of the bill, aside from raising the debt ceiling, is simply to cut.

And then cut some more.

“Federal agencies will have to cut $7 billion from their current budgets under the first phase of this debt deal,” notes American Federation of Government Employees President John Gage. “This could mean cutting tens of thousands of federal jobs like Social Security claims representatives, doctors and nurses at VA hospitals, border patrol agents and EPA scientists.”

Or pretty much any other federal position. Agencies, and a lot of contractors, are going to have to tighten their belts. Really tight.

“Federal workers in agencies throughout the government will no doubt be facing furloughs and even RIFs, and private-sector workers working for contractors will also be impacted,” predicted International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers President Gregory Junemann.

Over the past few days, federal employee advocates have reined in their enthusiasm over the bill’s absence of measures directly addressing federal pay and benefits. That may be because they knew that the bill didn’t really have to address pay and benefits: Total employment costs will go down anyway if agencies are squeezed into cutting employees or not replacing them. Besides, Congress can always take it up in the future.

Anyway, look on the bright side: The bill is signed. The government won’t have to default. Financial markets are heaving a sigh of relief.

And perhaps best of all, Congress is leaving town for a month.

Posted on Aug 02, 2011 at 4:02 PM


Reader comments

Thu, Aug 4, 2011

By this same logic we should raise the BAC % to lower DUI statistics. But hey if I run into one of these clowns at a vacation spot watering hole and they're buyin, well I'll look the other way...

Thu, Aug 4, 2011 FedGovSavesAll

Thank God the debt ceiling was raised. For a very short moment I was afraid sanity might return to the spenders in Washington D.C. But, have no fear, they reached an agreement to increase spending by $7 trillion dollars. WE ARE SAVED!!!!!

Wed, Aug 3, 2011 Robert Haslam Wiesbaden, Germany

I agree, the Congress is absolutely correct in saying we need to save and cut back. We should start cutting back on the people who hold the American tax payer a bay every time they need to push a bill or gain points for an election. The US Congress and Senate need to remember they are also part of the Gov't and any cuts should start at home i.e. in the house and senate. Or does the TEA PARTY think they're throwing tea into Boston harbor, and not destroying families and this nation with their self righteous ideas. It is amazing that those elected to support the people, in a time of our nations darkest hours, had as the number one issue on their bill to protect the rich so they don't have to pay taxes. The same people that put our nation in a crisis situation in the first place. Where is my money that was used to bail out the banks and companies during the last crisis?

Wed, Aug 3, 2011

I think that is exactly what this administration wants to do is increase socialism.

Wed, Aug 3, 2011 California

What about the Wall Street Fat Cats who made billions of dollars during 2000 to 2010 by selling Americans bad loans and never were prosecuted. The presendent(s) spent billions of tax payers money to bail out the CEOs/banks. Have them foot the bill and be accountable. I am sick and tire of the middle class having to face furrloughs, job loss and losing retirements. I believe some of the CEOs who were responsible for the fiasco a few years ago and/or turned their heads and did nothing are now working for this administrataion.

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