Gov Career

By Phil Piemonte

Blog archive

Whoa, what a week!

Trying to boil down readers’ reactions to the recent spate of legislation calling for pay freeze extensions and cutbacks on federal retirement benefits might be best expressed by a quote frequently uttered by Popeye the Sailor (right before he blew his top) …

“I’s had all’s I can stands, and I can’t stands no more!”

Just in case you need a review, let’s take a quick look back at the last seven days or so.

There was the introduction of the Down Payment to Protect National Security Act, which uses an extension of the federal pay freeze until June 2014—and a 5 percent cut in the number of civilian feds through attrition—to avoid billions of dollars in defense budget cuts.

Then there’s the debut of the Honest Budget Act, which would forbid periodic step increases from the date of the bill’s enactment until the end of 2012.

And of course, a House committee a few days ago approved the Securing Annuities for Federal Employees Act, which starting in 2013 would change the employee share of contributions to retirement, introduce a high-five formula for the pension calculations of new employees, and eliminate the FERS supplement in cases of early, non-mandatory retirement.

Plus, just for good measure, the SAFE Act also was inserted this week into the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act. Reason: So those savings from cutbacks to federal retirement benefits can be used to pay for transportation projects.

And maybe more we’ve just forgotten about.

But you get the picture: Even though all of these things are still proposals, they’ve given feds plenty enough to worry about. And all feds’ eyes are on Congress to see what members will come up with next.

Of course, not all members of Congress are looking to stick it to feds. Federal employees do have their outspoken champions, a lot of them lawmakers who represent fed-heavy districts in and around the national capital. Unfortunately for feds, these folks are in the minority just now in the House, where the bulk of this stuff is being hatched.

While a lot of people who make a living watching these developments believe that most of these legislative measures will meet resistance in the Senate and from the White House, at this point, who really knows anymore?

Feds might take some comfort—somewhat cold comfort—in the fact that lawmakers often over-demand—asking for everything in hopes that they will succeed in getting some small piece of it. Moreover, when legislators do get their way on that 50 percent—or even less—of what they asked for, that makes it look like a compromise.

Also keep in mind that every House seat is up for election this fall. Politicians tend to behave in an agitated fashion in election years. Perhaps more so in presidential election years. Legislative initiatives get inflated by campaign-year bluster (in addition to the regular, run-of-the-mill bluster).

The bottom line, if there is one: Don’t be surprised if you see more of the same stuff coming down the pike in the weeks and months ahead.

And remember to eat your spinach.

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Feb 10, 2012 at 4:02 PM

Reader comments

Fri, Feb 24, 2012 halon73 Washington DC

About a year ago I wrote a post that said that things were going to get bad and for all of my colleges to hunker down and stick it out. Well my tune has changed since that time and I'm sick and tired of this BS. I'm a federal employee and I'm proud of the service I provide to my country but if my country doesn't want my service and will passively aggressively threaten my families future and my retirement then maybe it’s time to leave. What I don't get is that a lot of popular programs that Americans depend on and like very much are run and managed by FEDERAL EMPLOYEES!! What the heck are people thinking?!?!? You can't have your cake and eat it too! We are human beings just like everyone else and more often than not we don't get paid what the private sector offers and we don't get the same benefits and we don't get the respect we deserve. For the most part most of us are here because we believe we are doing something for the greater good. So please tell your elected official that come this fall there will be a reckoning and to please focus on the real problems. I think that is what bothers me the most about Congress. Rather than working together and tackling the tough problems that would make a difference in our national budget (Social Security, Drug Prescription Programs, entitlements, entitlements, entitlements, and more entitlements) the go for the low hanging fruit and pick on the federal work force. I say “man up” and do the job you were elected to do and get off our backs!

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 cryptothug

Management 101 When you want to get rid of people or make them retire you make life as uncomfortable as possible. In passive aggressive fashion you make them quit and bring in younger and cheaper talent.

Fri, Feb 17, 2012 FEDUP2011 VA

The top 1% does pay more when you compare dollars to dollars. However, when their percentage of taxes paid on their income is around 13 -15% then they are not paying their fair share. 23% is withheld from my paycheck each week without my consent. I don't have the option of keeping all my money and investing it and potentially making enough money to pay the taxes on it at the end of the year and then spread out the income tax over a period of years so it doesn't hit me so hard at one time. Yeah the ultra rich need a break don't they? As a federal employee we barely kept our retirement benefits that I was promised 15 years ago. The new guys getting hired will truly get screwed out of their retirement. My retirement is calculated on 1% times high 3 years average times years of service. Congress is calculated on 1.7% times high 3 and years. When they earn over $200,000 a year why should they get the higher percentage? Their retirement will be considerably more than what I earn a year now. Yeah these are the people that need the breaks. Please, keep drinking the fool-aid and believe what they keep spewing as the truth.

Thu, Feb 16, 2012 Guillermo Mid-America

Counting all Federal Employees and contractors, there has to be some 2 million of is time for the Fed Bashing to stop; I agree with GA, we need to clean house and Federal Employees need to speak with one voice...we are tired of this crap, bash us and you pay...let's do something...I'm a Federal Employee and I vote!!!

Wed, Feb 15, 2012

I am what I am and that's all that I 'em! Popeye 1964?

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