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Federal Employees News Digest : Dec 16, 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 Public Sector Media 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. December 16, 2013 Vol. 63, No. 22 2 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com costs average 12.9 percent of tax revenue. And doesn't include the costs of health ben- efits provided to the retirees. Many say the young vs. old battle---the generational divide---has to mean one of sev- eral things: Big cuts in government services (at the federal level that includes national defense), higher taxes or reduced benefits. The big cost at the federal level is Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which up to now have been politically untouch- able targets. They've been exempt from cuts such as those related to sequestration, for the most part, while they nonetheless account for 44 cents of every dollar the federal government spends. And as the population ages and more Baby Boomers hit retirement age, that will only get worse. And the problem for federal and postal workers (whose benefits are generally higher than Social Security) is that the programs--- Social Security and the various federal employee pension benefit plans---are joined at the hip. And the latter, while smaller, is an easier target for politicians go after. Why is this suddenly a problem for feds? Years ago, the president of a major fed- eral union told me that the unsaid (but most important) part of his job description was to "protect the family jewels." He was talking about the Civil Service Retirement System and the (then) newer FERS plan. He said the union had to be concerned about and talk about pay and job security, but that there was little that could actually be done about them. Congress and the White House set federal pay based on political and budgetary considerations. Not like in a real labor vs. management scenario. Politicians still set, or sit on, pay raises. And there is little unions or anyone else can do about it, especially during hard economic times. But the one untouchable benefit that was once off the table---your retirement plan---is up for grabs. So far the action has been within state and local gov- ernments, but could yours be next? A quick history refresher to underscore a point: At the height of the British Empire, which included dozens of modern-day countries and regions, there was constant reference to the Jewel in the Crown. That was India. Victoria was queen of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. But she was Empress of India. It was the big one, often out of world view, but the big one nevertheless. So for feds the Jewel in the Crown has always been the big one, the major benefit. But it was taken for granted. It was and is a defined contribution, defined benefit system. You pay a relatively small contribu- tion for it, and the government picks up most of the share. Like Social Security, which generally has a much smaller benefit, federal retirees get back all of their contributions made over their career within 18 to 36 months of retirement. After that recovery period, it is all good. That wasn't a problem when life expectancy was in the late 50s or early 60s. Now the average American lifespan is about 84 years. Many more healthy and affluent people are living well past that average. When retirees, especially under Social Security, say they are entitled to ever- increasing payments (via COLAs) they say it is, after all, "their" money. But what most collect in retirement is much, much more than most paid in. After that, the money for the payments comes from their children and grandchildren. Younger and middle- aged people. Politicians are starting to realize this and they are being pushed, by younger voters, to level the playing---as in paying---field. Bottom line: The Jewel is no longer hidden. Or untouchable. The year 2014 promises to be interesting. Possibly trying. Stay tuned! INSIGHT by Mike Causey continued from page 1
Dec 9, 2013
Dec 23, 2013