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Federal Employees News Digest : Dec 23, 2013
Phil Piemonte, Managing Editor E-mail: email@example.com What's Inside44 DECEMBER 23, 2013 • VOL. 63, NO. 23 Flashback time The good old days, more often than not, nearly always look better 20 or 30 years after the fact. Unless---if you are like most people--- you realize how broke you were, all the time, back in the G.O.D. Remembering the bad with the good helps balance memories. Many long-time observers of congres- sional and presidential politics agree that relations between opposing politicians, at the congressional and White House level, maybe have never been worse. At least in the old days, they fought duels, or caned each other on the Senate floor. Now the warfare and violence is mostly verbal, sometimes fought out in the media, or before friendly think-tank audiences. The tension, the lack of tolerance and understanding, is especially evident today at the national level between Democrats and Republicans in the GOP-controlled House and the Democratic-run Senate. It wasn't always so. Or at least it wasn't this bad. The new budget agreement written by four House and Senate leaders was mostly done in private. Away from TV cameras, reporters and no-compromise Democratic super-liberals and no-compromise INSIGHT BY MIKE CAUSEY continued on page 2 For more news...see Federal Daily at www.FederalDaily.com • 'Best Places' highlights decline 4 • Legal Matters 5 • Informed Investor 7 • Federal Benefits Q&A 8 continued on page 3 AFGE leader looks ahead to 2014 To close out 2013, FEND begins a series of interviews with leaders of federal employee groups to review how federal employees were affected by a very tough 2013, as well as explore what might be in store for 2014. This week, FEND's Nathan Abse talks with the national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, J. David Cox, Sr., to dis- cuss issues faced by rank-and-file fed- eral employees. Cox offers his views on various setbacks for feds this past year resulting from last spring's breakdown in budget talks, the sequester and employee furloughs---and discusses some of the union's plans for the year ahead. Q&A with AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. After months of false starts and bro- ken negotiations over a continuing res- olution and budget deal, finally it looks like the budget conferees' compromise plan is the one. Can you tell our readers what you make of the plan---which will cost feds more out-of-pocket toward retirement than in the past? Can you talk about how AFGE and other unions might work to mitigate the damage done by such a plan? Cox: We're disappointed that it asked anything more of federal employees--- because we've already given $114 bil- lion [toward the budget deficit]. It's a $6 billion hit on federal employees, versus what had been a proposed $24 billion hit. New hires are going to be giving 4.4 percent of their income, in retirement contributions---without any increased benefits. Basically, this is nothing but a total tax increase on federal employees from the federal gov- ernment. Meanwhile, they're not closing any of the tax loopholes, or raising taxes on the wealthiest of the wealthy---and we know that FERS is fully and com- pletely funded at only 0.8 percent. It's just not right, and the spike in contribu- tions is tough on federal employees. The new 4.4 percent demanded, in employee contributions, is about 5 times what federal employees originally paid into this system. Can you remind our readers of the history---on when the government increased this over the years, when they imposed higher employee contri- butions---or increased "tax," as you termed it? Cox: They jacked it up last year. From 1984 to 2013, employee contributions stayed at 0.8 percent. The actuaries fig- ured that all federal employees needed to pay that much for FERS to pay for itself. Last year they raised it up, 2.3 This is the last issue of FEND for 2013. Our next issue will be published on Jan. 13. We wish all of our readers a happy holiday and a prosperous 2014.
Dec 16, 2013