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Federal Employees News Digest : Oct 14, 2013
Phil Piemonte, Managing Editor E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org What's Inside44 OCTOBER 14, 2013 • VOL. 63, NO. 13 Shutdown tale If you have between $98,000 and $99,000 in your Thrift Savings Plan account, congratulations. You are statistically dead- on average. The ques- tion---which no one can answer with any certainty---is what the impact of the shut- down and a possible debt ceiling default will do to the stock market---and your TSP account. What if the market happens to tank and you are in the wrong investments? What if it drastically---and permanently---reduces the amount you will have in your optional- but-must-have retirement nest egg? Would you sue somebody? If so, whom? And for what? Whatever happens, some of the ripple effects of the shutdown have created bureaucratic problems that may be with us (as taxpayers) for years. All this reminds me of myself in my last year with the Army Reserve, when I was forced to play a khaki-wearing version of Scheherazade to avoid more arduous duty. Let me begin my tale... Scheherazade, you recall, was one of a long line of beautiful virgins supplied to a Persian king. He would marry each one, spend one night with her, then have her beheaded. (This was long before political correctness took hold.) Anyhow, Scheherazade was wife No. 1,001. She knew that next morning that she too would be beheaded. But she tricked her husband, asking if she first could tell INSIGHT BY MIKE CAUSEY continued on page 2 For more news...see Federal Daily at www.FederalDaily.com • Pay bills on hold 4 • Informed Investor 7 • DOD civilians called back 8 • NATCA cites safety risk 8 • In Brief 8 • Federal Benefits Q&A 9 continued on page 3 Shutdown squeezing public safety, security The federal shutdown---and furlough of hundreds of thousands of federal employ- ees---showed little sign of a quick end as the drama entered its second week. The Republican House majority contin- ued to refuse to budge on fully funding the federal government with what has become known as a "clean" continuing resolu- tion---one unencumbered by other mea- sures---unless Democrats submitted to defunding or at least delaying funding for the Affordable Care Act. But Democratic lawmakers and the White House stood fast as well, demanding a clean CR before negotiating on other issues. "Debate about the Affordable Care Act is legitimate---there are people who disagree with it, and people who agree with it," Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said on the house floor Oct. 9. "But holding to ransom the people's government is--- and should [be]---unacceptable." The first and most obvious victims of the shutdown have been federal employ- ees, whose pay has been suspended and who dwell amid the uncertainty of when it all will end. But the public, too, is suf- fering a myriad of immediate problems and delays---not just in processing tax matters and passport applications, but also in the potentially life-altering areas of health and food safety, environmental protection and national security. Health and food safety The Food and Drug Administration is just one agency where almost all employ- ees have been furloughed. More than 95 percent of the staff are out, according to the agency. "Congressional gridlock over govern- ment spending is beginning to take a toll on public health," Colin O'Neil, director of government affairs for the non-profit watchdog group Center for Food Safety, told FEND. "A current multi-state Salmonella outbreak---which has already sickened over 270 people in 18 states---is a clear indication that we need our food safety agencies firing at all cylinders." O'Neil and other experts on food safety noted that with many inspectors out of the picture during the shutdown, such outbreaks not only are potential- ly not being tracked or addressed as closely as when the government is prop- erly funded---but they also lead to a less informed, more vulnerable public. "Not only has the government shut- down meant that food safety agencies have had to pare back their inspections and investigations, but it has also meant that consumers are not getting the updated information they need about food safety risks and recalls," O'Neil told FEND. "The only way to ensure that our food system is adequately safe and secure is for Congress to pass a clean CR that
Oct 7, 2013
Oct 21, 2013