The Elephant (or Donkey) In The Room

Thursday - 9/1/2011, 2:01am EDT

True or False:

Most federal government workers are either born with a genetic disposition to be Democrats, or they convert to the party of Jefferson and Jackson shortly after taking the oath of office? In other words, most of the people who work for the Uncle Sam are either closet or committed Democrats.

Yes, No?

That may or may be a BS (bad science) question, but...

For a variety of reasons, some groups (and most unions) representing federal workers have pretty much burned their bridges with Republicans at the Congressional level. That is a fact. Why that is the case is subject to debate.

In fact many politicians — Republican and Democratic — complain that feds aren't political enough and that many hide behind the Hatch "no politics" Act to avoid working for, supporting or giving money to candidates.

Except for the 1972 and 1980 elections, federal unions — or at least their leaders — have endorsed , supported and worked exclusively for Democratic presidential candidates.

Those without any GOP friends or political contacts say the Republicans started it. That the GOP — and especially the Tea Party wing- — are anti-government and anti-government worker and have been indifferent to or increasingly hostile to feds for a long-time.

Republican politicians would counter that feds — or at least the leadership of the unions that represent them — embrace, endorse or in some cases (like now) endure anyone on the Democratic ticket.

A long-time observer, both smart and cynical, said that both sides are about 80 percent accurate 40 percent of the time.

Regardless of how much truth (or lack of same) there is in either argument, it is probably safe to say that most members of Congress, whether Democrats or Republicans, think the federal workforce tilts Democratic.

(Personal Note: Based on decades of conversations, mail and now email from feds I would say the pols are wrong. My guess is that feds are very much like their middle and upper class neighbors in blue and red states. Because of the mission of the federal government, feds tend to be better-educated and better-paid than the general public. Politicians (of both parties) as a rule are nervous with smart voters.)

The Congressional Super Committee is preparing its hit list for government programs. It is supposed to be made public around Thanksgiving, with Congress voting on those cuts around the first of December.

Lacking friends among the Republican members of the committee, federal and postal groups are betting the farm on Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington). Both are pro-fed, and represent a large number of federal workers and federal retirees.

Earlier this week the Federal Managers Association wrote Murray that feds believe they've done their share by accepting the 2-year pay freeze (imposed by the White House) but don't want to see benefits slashed by politicians who have "insatiable appetites when it comes to targeting federal workers ... as a means to reduce the nation' debt." Other unions and associations have are working closely with Van Hollen, in particular, to minimize any hits on federal workers.

Predicting what the super committee will recommend, where it will end up is akin to the recent tracking of Hurricane Irene. The weather pros did a good job considering that hurricanes have a mind of their own. But even with the media overkill (DC Doomed, Manhattan to Be Leveled) I don't recall anybody predicting that covered bridges in Vermont would be swept away.

So if you are a fed, have a battery radio, stock up on white bread, milk and toilet paper (panic staples in the Washington area) and hunker down.

To reach me, mcausey@federalnewsradio.com


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

By Jack Moore

Before he created the powdered drink mix, Kool-Aid, which was originally called "Fruit Smack," Edwin Perkins of Hastings, Neb., developed a remedy to kick the tobacco habit called "Nix-O-Tine."


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