Read This, Save $146.4 Billion!

Thursday - 1/13/2011, 4:00am EST

In order to sell something in Washington, especially to Congress, the numbers must be right. Right as in "believable" or "acceptable" whether they are, in fact, correct or not.

You (the seller) must be able to show (or at least say) that the proposal it will save X millions of dollars. Better yet, X billions of dollars. Even if your math is fuzzy. Or if you had to move some dots and commas around to make your case.

Case in point: The bipartisan plan to reduce federal employment by 10 percent, and change retirement rules to reduce benefits and require employees to contribute more to their retirement. Each, according to backers, will save pots of money thus making it easier for us to repay our Chinese creditors in decades rather than centuries.

But when the numbers get so high, and so complicated, how do you check them? A very clever reader - who will be known only as "Diane" -found the secret. She was inspired by the so-called Brady bill, as introduced by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas).

Here's what she says:

    "Here's a thought. If you remove the green colored gumballs from a gumball machine, this will save $222 billion. But if you remove the yellow colored gumballs it will only save $111 billion.

    "How did I come up with this number? Probably the same way politicians come up with their numbers. Pull one out of the air.

    "Brady estimates the bill, titled 'Cut Unsustainable and Top-heavy Spending,' (H.R. 235) would save $153 billion. This is just one of many many ideas and statements of how much an idea will save.

    "What actually goes into the amount of each cost cutting idea?

    "Who picks up the slack of the work?

    "What will it cost to train these people to do the work of the people they replace?

    "And the customers getting less than quality service?

    "Let's cut back on the deadwood Congress and Senate? Oh wait we can't do that because their jobs are protected by the Constitution. Or was that portion deleted from the reading last week. Maybe reading a shortened version would save $1 billion.

    "This email will save $124.6 billion." Thanks for Letting Me Vent

See how easy it is when you get your facts straight?

Retirement/Health Premium Changes

So what are the odds that Congress will trim the federal workforce, deliberalize retirement benefits and force feds and retirees to pay a bigger chunk of their health insurance premiums. Pretty good, according to Federal Times editor Steve Watkins and reporter Steve Losey who watches Congress for the popular newspaper. Watkins and Losey were my guests yesterday on our Your Turn with Mike Causey radio show. We talked about everything from on-the-job security to potential layoffs, buyouts and plans to reduce retirement benefits while increasing the amount of money feds pay for those benefits.

The show is archived on our show page. To listen to it anytime, click here.

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com


Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

Today is St. Knut's Day. In Sweden, January 13 is the traditional day to discard the Christmas tree.


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