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Federal Employees News Digest : Sep 2, 2013
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---$39 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 $39. 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 2013 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. September 2, 2013 Vol. 63, No. 7 2 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com few blocks from the White House. He didn't ask me what Woodward and Bernstein (of "All The President's Men" fame) were like. Nothing about hobnobing with senators and ambassadors. Or covering bank robberies. Upon hearing the word "Post," he responded: "The Post Office, that's a good job. You got lucky." The Post, to him, meant the U.S. Postal Service. It meant delivering or sorting the mail. And as such, a good, solid, no-nonsense job. He ought to know, because I found out later that he had gotten a job, in that small town, with the Agriculture Department. He was one of the best-paid people in the com- munity, and he loved his work. For years, because I kept tabs on the fed- eral pay scale, I knew he made more money than I did. In a much lower-rent area. I went to his retirement party nine years ago. I am still working. But that was a very different time, in a very different place. For the last 30 years or so, the government has been a good place to work. Pay kept going up, the retirement plan was improved, as was the health plan and its many options. With Uncle paying the lion's share of the premium. The addition of the Thrift Savings Plan--- with a total 5 percent match for most—was even better. John Bogle, creator of the index fund and founder of Vanguard, told me he wished he could get into the TSP! That's a pretty good endorsement. Some long-time observers say that 2009, when Congress came up with a long list of job improvements, was the best year feds have ever had on Capitol Hill. It looked like the sky was the limit. Then things went south. The dot.com bubble had burst in the early part of the new century, and the 9/11 attacks already had begun to change everything probably forever. The housing market collapsed. Democrats and Republicans who once worked together developed a permanent case of heat rash. (Some people think the seeds of that ani- mosity were sown earlier, during the govern- ment shutdown of 1995-96, which was a power play between President Bill Clinton and House GOP Leader Newt Gingrich. Gingrich, by most accounts, lost the PR battle with both the public and press. But both sides had started to dig in for the long haul.) The anti-federal worker movement kicked off with a series of newspaper articles to the effect that feds are overpaid, under- worked and can't be fired. Much of the data came from think tanks that oppose big government. Those articles failed to note that Uncle Sam doesn't do retail. He doesn't employ people who flip burgers or act as greeters in big-box stores. Then a more recent series of "scandals"--- involving, in turns, the General Services Administration, the Secret Service, the IRS, the State Department and lately the NSA--- added fuel to the anti-government bonfire. President Obama, who had the full sup- port of all federal-postal unions, ordered the two-year federal pay freeze. And now Congress has piled on and is looking for more ways to save money at your expense. Those savings could come in the form of higher retirement plan contributions from you (aka a reduction in take-home pay), a voucher system that would increase your share of health premiums, and imposition of a new system for calculating inflation. The last, called the "chained CPI," would reduce future cost-of-living adjustments for federal, military and Social Security benefits. The reduction would be slight, an estimated 0.3 percentage points each year. You would hardly notice it. But over time, it would reduce your total benefit thousands of dol- lars. Think of it as compounding in reverse. The new fiscal year begins in October. Congress---still on vacation---will be in ses- sion only a handful of days in September. Budgets have not been approved, and there is no consensus over a continuing resolution. CRs allow agencies to continue spending at current levels. Unless the debt ceiling is raised by mid-October, the government will run out of money and face a shutdown. You may have had a pretty good run over most of your federal career. But as of now, your timing is definitely off. INSIGHT by Mike Causey continued from page 1
Aug 26, 2013
Sep 9, 2013