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Federal Employees News Digest : Dec. 17, 2012
INSIGHT by Mike Causey continued from page 1 Kristi Dougherty General Manager Phil Piemonte Managing Editor Sherkiya Wedgeworth Online Managing Editor Becky Fenton Circulation Manager Nathan Abse Writer Mike Causey Columnist Edward Zurndorfer Columnist Published by 1105 Government Information Group, Anne Armstrong, President. 1105 Government Information Group is part of 1105 Media, Inc. Neal Vitale, CEO. Corporate Headquarters: 1105 Media, Inc. 9201 Oakdale Ave., Suite 101, Chatsworth, CA 91311 www.1105media.com Office: 8609 Westwood Center Drive, Suite 500 Vienna, VA 22182-2215 Phone: Editorial: (703) 891-8554 Subscriptions: (800) 989-3363 Fax: (703) 876-5130 Internet: www.FederalDaily.com Subscription Rates: 1 year---$99 Site Licenses are available: E-mail: FENDsitelicense@ FederalDaily.com For single article reprints (in minimum quantities of 250-500), e-prints, plaques and posters contact: PARS International Phone: (212) 221-9595 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.magreprints.com/QuickQuote.asp The Comptroller General has ruled that federal agen- cies and departments may buy Federal Employees News Digest publications with government funds. This decision is No. B-185591. Federal Tax ID 20-4583700. DUNS #612031414. FEDERAL EMPLOYEES NEWS DIGEST (ISSN 1065-0970) is published weekly except first week in January and last week in December by 1105 Media, Inc., 9201 Oakdale Avenue, Suite 101, Chatsworth, CA 91311. Annual subscription rate is: US $99. Subscription inquiries and customer service: Mail to: Federal Employees News Digest, PO Box 15428, N. Hollywood, CA 91615-5428, customerservice@feder- aldaily.com or call (800) 989-3363, fax (818) 487-4550. © Copyright 2012 by 1105 Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproductions or distribution in whole or part prohibited except by site license or reprint purchase. The information in this newsletter has not undergone any formal testing by 1105 Media, Inc. and is dis- tributed without any warranty expressed or implied. Implementation or use of any information contained herein is the reader's sole responsibility. While the information has been reviewed for accuracy, there is no guarantee that the same or similar results may be achieved in all environments. Technical inaccuracies may result from printing errors and/or new develop- ments in the industry. This publication's subscriber list, as well as other lists from 1105 Media, Inc., is available for rental. For more information, please contact our list manager, Merit Direct. Phone: (914) 368-1000; E-mail: 1105media@ meritdirect.com; Web: www.meritdirect.com/1105. December 17, 2012 Vol. 62, No. 23 2 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com bipartisan blue ribbon panel (Simpson- Bowles) to come up with tough choices to reduce the deficit. It did its job, but politicians didn't follow through to make the hard, BRAC-like choices. The vice president chaired a congres- sional group that went nowhere. A GOP coalition in the House tossed around some major cuts or changes to federal employee benefit, then tied itself in political knots. The upside, if you can call it that, is that most of the things feds and postal workers were worrying about this time last year have faded away. With maybe one exception. Earlier this year, some workers said they would retire early if Congress changed the retirement computation formula (from the high-3 year average salary to a high-5 system). Others said they would get out if retirement contributions for current employees were raised. As it turns out, nothing has happened and none of those options appear to be on the table in talks between the president and the GOP speaker of the House. But ... There is one thing to keep your eye on. It is a change that federal and postal unions, and groups like the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, been sweating for a long time. Few people (myself included) understand it well, or can explain it. But if it did happen, it would have much more impact on your retirement years than any change from the high-3 to the high-5. The threat to watch is the so-called "chained COLA." And it is not a circus act or high energy soft drink. COLA in this case stands for cost-of-living adjust- ment---those inflation-triggered raises retirees get every (nearly) year to keep pace with higher prices for food, rent, gasoline, etc. Currently the COLA is based on one of several measures used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its CPI (Consumer Price Index) program. Many retirees claim the CPI that is used underreports the actual rate of infla- tion. They say their January COLAs should be larger, to reflect things like rapidly rising medical costs. But critics say just the opposite. They say the CPI that is being used inflates the rate of inflation. They say it measures many things and goods that people---espe- cially retirees---don't purchase each year. Or in some cases, ever. The Simpson-Bowles panel, among others, has recommended that the government switch yardsticks, using a chained CPI that, they say, would more accurately reflect the actual rise in infla- tion. Both backers and opponents say the same thing: That using the chained CPI would reduce future retiree COLAs by about 0.3 percent a year. That doesn't seem like much, because it isn't. But a 0.3 percent annual reduc- tion in the COLA for 64 million people getting Social Security checks (plus fed- eral and military retirees) would be a large chunk of change. And the savings would mount up over the years. There is increasing speculation that any final deal between the White House and Congress might include the chained COLA. Whether you like the idea or hate it, there isn't much anybody can do about it at this stage. But if there are any cuts to benefits and entitlements in the coming year, that could be one of them.
Dec. 10, 2012
Jan. 14, 2013