Who's that turkey in the mirror?

Tuesday - 10/18/2011, 2:00am EDT

Federal workers and turkeys these days are similar to prisoners in the Bastille following the French Revolution. That is: Each then faced, or now faces, some rather serious ruin-your-whole-day cuts.

For the unlucky French nobility, the odds of losing their heads, courtesy of the Directoire exécutif, were very good. Many did just that.

For current feds, a kick in the head (make that several kicks in the head) are more likely to be imposed by our Directory, the angry and partisan U.S. Congress.

The bipartisan supercommittee is hard at work on ways to cut costs. It is looking at ideas from previous groups that failed to reach a consensus, but which all managed to come up with some pretty horrible (for feds) proposals.

The supercommitee has said everything is on the table. Except that Republicans say taxes are off the table and Democrats say entitlements must be left alone. Other than that...

On September 19 we ran a partial listing of items relating directly to feds and retirees that the supercommittee might consider:

Since then, the White House has endorsed a relatively modest increase in the amount of salary workers contribute to the CSRS or FERS retirement packages. And there is strong support for extending the current two year federal pay freeze for another year.

Last week, the majority on the House Oversight and Government Reform committee urged the supercommittee to consider extending the pay freeze three more years and a 10 percent across-the-board reduction in federal jobs. Workers under the CSRS retirement plan would have to contribute 10 percent to their retirement fund, up from 7 percent at present. The FERS contribution rate would go increase by 6.2 percent. The FERS retirement program would not be available to new hires.

Chairman Joseph Lieberman (I-Ct.) and ranking minority member Susan Collins (R-Maine) proposed a total 3-year pay freeze, and 1.2 percent payroll tax .

Meantime Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Steven Lynch (D-Mass.) and Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) urged the supercommittee to lay off feds and retirees. Cummings' district and Akaka's state are chock full of federal workers and retirees.

The presidents of the American Federation of Government Employees, National Treasury Employees Union and the National Active and Retired Federal Employees all said feds have taken more than their share of hits. They are frustrated and angry because even some of their best friends in Congress appear ready to go along with some of the less draconian cuts being considered.

The supercommittee recommendations — which Congress is supposed to consider on an up-or-down, no-amendments basis — are due out around Thanksgiving, a popular holiday — except for turkeys. And maybe after this year, it won't be such a fun day for government workers either.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

By Jack Moore

Harold Camping, the radio preacher who predicted the end of the world on May 21, has recalibrated his doomsday clock for Oct. 21. In contrast to the springtime cataclysm he predicted, this time he says the world will end "very, very quietly," according to NPR.


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