Swing-dancing feds: One step forward, two steps back

Friday - 3/30/2012, 2:00am EDT

(Editor's note: This column was originally published Feb. 15, 2012. Senior Correspondent Mike Causey is on vacation, so we're revisiting some of his recent columns)

In swing dancing, I am told, you sometimes take one step forward and two steps backward.

By that definition, most federal workers may be about to become swingers whether they like it or not.

By now, you know that the White House budget proposes a 0.5 percent pay raise next January. But that would be offset by a 0.4 percent increase in your contributions to your CSRS or FERS retirement plan. In 2014, that contribution would go up another 0.4 percent and by 2014 you would be paying an additional 1.2 percent for your retirement benefit. And that may be the good news.

Republican budget cutters — and some of their Democratic colleagues — would like feds to sacrifice even more. They would extend the pay freeze at least another year. And they might propose exchanging the current high-three retirement formula for a system that bases annuities of future hires on their highest five-year average salary.

AFGE President John Gage, initially a strong supporter of President Obama, said the White House budget treats federal employee paychecks "...like an ATM machine." National Treasury Employees Union president Colleen Kelley also blasted the White House plan.

One committee-cleared plan in the House, would raise FERS employee contributions to 2.3 percent over a three year period. CSRS employees would wind up paying 8.5 percent, up from their current 7 percent contribution level. It also includes the switch from the high-three to a high-five formula. And it would eliminate the Social Security supplement for FERS employees who voluntarily retire before age 62. Democratic leaders say they will ignore, or vote down the plan when it reaches the Senate. Still ...

So what's your bet: Will it be something, or nothing?


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

By Jack Moore

Talking in your sleep is officially known as somniloquy, and is caused by what's called "motor breakthrough," Life's Little Mysteries reports. Your mouth and vocal cords, which normally lie inactive during sleep, "briefly get switched on."


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