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Federal Employees News Digest : Feb. 25, 2013
February 25, 2013 Vol. 62, No. 30 3 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com "We've got to protect Social Security," he said. "We've got to protect Medicare!" Those programs would be trimmed over time under Simpson-Bowles. AFGE members were joined by mem- bers of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, who were also protesting. AFSCME President Lee Saunders and Trumka also spoke at the rally. The Capitol Hill protest and other recent actions follow a wave of nationwide pro- tests last December, most of them lunch- time events at or near federal workplaces across the country. Public harm Earlier this month, National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley reminded the public that they too have a lot to lose should sequestration take effect. Kelley spotlighted a report from the House Appropriations Committee that outlines some of the real-world damage the sequester invites. "The impacts outlined in this report underscore the position NTEU has been arguing strongly for---namely, that sequestration must be avoided for the good of the country," Kelley said. For example, if sequester goes into effect, on any given day fully 10 per- cent of air traffic controllers will be on furlough, reducing air safety, she noted. Agriculture Department meat and poul- try inspectors would likewise be cut under that department's contingency plans, resulting in at least intermittent shutdowns of some food plants. Even Food and Drug Administration food and drug inspection teams would be slashed, here and abroad. ‘Meat-cleaver approach’ In remarks to a gathering of emergency responders at the White House last week, President Obama faulted Congress for failing to meet the goal it set for itself in 2011 when it devised the doomsday sequestration scheme---and urged it to take action before the deadline. "The whole design of these arbitrary cuts was to make them so unattract- ive and unappealing that Democrats and Republicans would actually get together and find a good compromise of sensible cuts as well as closing tax loopholes and so forth," the president told the gathering. "And so this was all designed to say we can't do these bad cuts; let's do something smarter. That was the whole point of this so-called sequestration." "Unfortunately, Congress didn't com- promise," he said. "They haven't come together and done their jobs, and so as a consequence, we've got these automatic, brutal spending cuts that are poised to happen next Friday." Obama condemned what he called the "meat-cleaver approach" of sequestration, which would result in indiscriminate cuts to most programs. "It won't consider whether we're cut- ting some bloated program that has out- lived its usefulness, or a vital service that Americans depend on every single day," he said. "It doesn't make those distinctions." "Congress can do the right thing," he said. "We can avert just one more Washington-manufactured problem that slows our recovery, and bring down our deficits in a balanced, responsible way." To see more, go to: www.whitehouse. gov/the-press-office/2013/02/19/remarks- president-sequester. Postal chief urges Congress to pass reforms The head of the U.S. Postal Service appeared before a Senate panel this month to defend a new five-day mail delivery plan, and to reiterate his call for a slate of other reforms aimed at improving the U.S. Postal Service's financial health. The five-day plan, which would become effective Aug. 5, would preserve six-day package delivery, Postmaster General and CEO Patrick Donahoe said. "The anticipated savings from this schedule, when fully implemented, is approximately $2 billion annually," Donahoe told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Feb. 13. "This step will close approximately 10 percent of the $20 bil- lion budget gap." But many other changes are required as well, he said, to stem consistent losses at the organization. "The Postal Service continues to face tremendous financial challenges, last year alone recording a loss of $15.9 billion," he told the panel. "The Postal Service has seen net losses for five consecutive quarters, and for 14 of the last 16 quarters. We defaulted on retiree health benefits payments (RHB) to the United States Treasury totaling $11.1 billion. While a large part of the loss can be attributed to the statutorily mandated RHB prefunding requirement, the Postal Service has expe- rienced billions in operating losses for each of the past four years as well." Donahoe argued that "contrary to some opinions," eliminating the retiree health benefits prefunding payments alone will not solve the Postal Service's money problems, and offered prelimi- nary figures to back up his claim. In the meantime, he said, USPS continues to experience a severe liquidity crisis and declining revenue. "At one point in October 2012, the Postal Service had less than four days' worth of cash on hand to fund opera- tions," he told lawmakers. "For an orga- nization the size of the Postal Service -- which has revenues of $65 billion and a career workforce of 495,000 -- that is an unacceptable margin." Donahoe urged Congress to pass a now-familiar slate of reforms to set USPS on a sound financial path, includ- ing allowing USPS to resolve the retiree health benefits issue by forming its own continued from page 1 Don’t miss our discussion of weekly news topics. Discuss these stories and more with your fellow federal workers at www.FederalSoup.com. continued on page 4
Feb. 18, 2013
March 4, 2013