Skip to comments.Budget ax may fall on fed pensions
Posted on 11/26/2013 4:28:27 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
Federal workers look like they could be the big losers if House and Senate budget conferees reach a deal.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) are working behind closed doors to reach a deal that would replace some of the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester with other reductions.
They are believed to be looking at hiking federal worker employee retirement contributions, which would effectively lower federal pay. The savings would be used to prevent sequester cuts to the Pentagon and non-defense discretionary spending.
Unions representing workers are worried about the cuts already on the table.
This is a crunch time and crisis time for federal employees, said J. David Cox. the president of the AFL-CIOs American Federation of Government Employees, on Monday. We are prepared to stand up against anyone who is prepared to come back to the same well again.
The fact that Senate Democrats and House Republicans are leading the conference could put federal workers at a disadvantage.
Their strongest political power base is House Democrats, who are close to the unions that represent federal workers. That means their key protectors include House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Budget Committee ranking member Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who is a budget conferee.
Yet Van Hollen could find himself on the outside looking in if Murray and Ryan representing Senate Democrats and House Republicans make a deal.
Van Hollen said Monday that he finds any deal focusing on federal workers unfair.
This is no time to ask them to shoulder even more of the burden, especially when House Republicans refuse to close a single corporate tax loophole as part of that effort, said Van Hollen, who added that Murray is keeping him in the loop on the talks.
Sources say Ryan and Murray are focused on low-hanging fruit from previous talks.
Both President Obama and Ryan included cuts to federal worker benefits in their budgets, making it an area where there is some agreement between the two parties.
Ryan and Murray are avoiding big-ticket items like raising tax rates or cutting Medicare and Medicaid benefits, areas where there is little agreement between Republicans and Democrats.
While Obama and Ryan have both targeted federal employees with their budgets, their numbers are different.
Obamas 2014 budget called for increasing current federal worker retirement contributions by 1.2 percent, which would save $20 billion over 10 years.
Ryan proposed increasing contributions by 5.5 percent, saving $132 billion over 10 years.
Cox said that he personally made it clear to Obama that it is unacceptable to require federal workers to contribute more to their retirements.
We are drawing a line in the sand, Cox said.
A letter issued Thursday by 40 House Democrats highlighted the worries of members representing federal workers.
The letter to budget conferees, which was led by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), noted that workers have been operating under a three-year pay freeze.
The letter also noted that federal workers have already seen their pay cut through furloughs this year, and that new federal hires starting last January had to pay 2.3 percent more for retirement benefits.
That cut to benefits came as part of a 2012 deal that extended a payroll tax holiday for all workers temporarily. Unions point out that as part of other fiscal talks, Republicans have succeeded in keeping a pay freeze for federal workers in place for three years.
Federal workers are a perennial punching bag, deficit hawk Bob Bixby of The Concord Coalition said on Monday. Bixby is advocating a grand bargain that tackles bigger items, including Medicare.
National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley said any cuts to retirement benefits would be unacceptable.
If this were to occur, it would come atop all that federal employees have endured over the past three years and would amount to a serious pay cut and yet another assault on these dedicated public servants, she said Monday. Reaching into the pockets of your employees over and over to fund shortfalls is a sure path to recruitment and retention problems.
Budget conferees, to be sure, are focused on other areas as well to try to find savings that could be used to offset the sequester cuts.
There is talk of claiming savings from cuts to the troubled Postal Service.
Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said Monday that postal reform must be out of any Ryan-Murray deal.
The Postal Service has not received a dime from taxpayers since 1982 and does not contribute to the federal deficit. Mandating damaging service cuts at the Postal Service has no place in the budget deal, Rolando said.
Other low-hanging fruit has included increasing aviation fees, tapping wireless spectrum sales and finding savings from a deal on a new farm bill.
Federal workers could actually be double losers from a small deal.
Their retirement contributions could be targeted to turn off part of the sequester, leaving most of the automatic spending cuts in place.
That would risk further furloughs and possible layoffs.
How busy are they collecting our data and private information?
How many more will be hired by the IRS to inflict Obamacare dictates on the nation?
At least they have jobs - permanent jobs it would seem.
there supposed to be public servants! The feds need to pay more for the benefits that they receive. businesses in the private sector have had to make cuts on benies, why not local, state and fed employees?
You can see the plans and cost here:
article only says they would be asked to add contributions but not what that level would become.
Complaining about pay freezes when nobody is getting raises and many can’t find jobs for 30 hours a week will justifiably find deaf ears except from the politicians who rely on their vote.
There is an intrenched idea out there that government and government “workers” should NEVER have to do with less. Even having to get by with the same for 2 yrs seems intolerable to them.
Yet when those of us in the private sector complain about taxes going up we are accused of whining....
Putting more people on Medicare is expensive.
Paying extended time on unemployment is expensive.
Adding more and more people to the Food Stamp program is expensive.
Advertising on television asking more people to get food stamps is expensive.
EBT cards are expensive.
Somebody has to pay for these things. We cannot expect to cut anything that brings in Democrat votes.
So we go after the workers. First we rip them off for Obamacare, then we raise their contribution to their retirement, then we cut the retirement.
And after all of this they expect the workers to vote for Democrats.
Hey, Mr. Cox: your employers (the taxpayers) find it entirely acceptable. If you don't like it, find a better package in the private sector. . .
They should really cut the budget and close the useless Energy Dept., Interior Dept., Commerce Dept., USDA, HHS, Education Dept. Let those who have fed from the feral government trough go find a job in the Obama economy. It’s obvious that these paper-pushers are over-paid when the five richest counties in the nation are clustered around Washington D. C.
Fed “workers”? Bwahahahahaaaaaaaaaaa. Let me catch my breath.
When I left the private sector about 25 years ago, I gave up a higher-paying job and lucrative stock options in the company I worked for because I wanted to be on the government side of the table. In return, I got a GS job with lower pay smaller bonuses and slow raises which have been non-existent for the last four years. I’m about ready to chuck it all and retire on the pittance FERS offers. Nod when I get a bad attitude like that, you’ve really accomplished a feat. What discourages me most is comments in threads like this one from ignorant people who don’t make even a feeble attempt to find out facts about the work of a Fed in the Obama administration. I know many old hands who feel the same way I do.
The current administration is literally sucking the life out of us in increased taxes (removal of deductions is an increase in taxes), higher costs at the grocery store, and raising the cost of doing business. If we have to suffer so should they. We need to look at the fatcat politician’s pensions and restructure them based on performance.
Well at least your healthcare plan is the best in the nation and I don’t know any company that offers the vacation time/sick time/training time that federal employees enjoy. When you match up the total benefit packages of government employees, you’d be hard-pressed to find something comparable in the private sector... unless you’re senior management.
Nothing but smoke and mirrors. Only talk about % change and not the actual cost and contributions... keep it confused and they can change the goal posts all the time.
$20 bil over how many years? Noting but a f__t in a whirlwind. Why waste time? Oh, this is all they can agree on.
Ineffective, lame, broken, useless government and politicians.
Feel free to retire. We have entirely too many people working in Government, or FOR government. I haven’t had a raise in 5 years, or a bonus in 7. Welcome to Reality, Mister Fed. . .
And if my co-workers at my state office are any indication, most will continue to vote Democrat and accuse the Republicans of causing the problems, regardless of the evidence to the contrary.
Yes: The one thing that never changes with Democrats is hat they can never have an open mind. They cannot think for themselves.
The die hard Democrats that I know do no keep up with what is going on and in fact although they are educated and intelligent human beings they are true lo-info voters . They do not look into politics they just take it for granted that the Democrat party is doing right by them.
But in the next two years things are going to change. They are going to start getting hit in the pocketbook by their insurance going up along with their deductibles and their taxes going up to pay for those who are not paying. When they are hit hard enough they may wake up.
With incomes double those in the private sector, they can certainly afford it.
OPM.GOV (Other people’s $$) Fitting
Sorry, how about this, both public and private
Knock off the bennies, kill the income tax and invest in yourself and/or save for retirement using your own $$.
The taxpayers are not a piggie-bank; and the sure as sh*t don’t get any say at the ‘negotiating table’
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.