Millionaires tighten (money) belts

Thursday - 6/21/2012, 2:00am EDT

Congress, especially the U.S. Senate, has more than its share of millionaires. Outside of Hollywood, Wall Street and a mob convention in Las Vegas, it would be hard to assemble 535 Americans at random with so much money. So what's their secret?

Some politicians, of course, made it the hard way. That is, before they got elected. In the private sector. Others inherited money or married well and wisely. Others got sweetheart deals or cut-rate loans on property. Some, thanks to wise choices and a little help from groups they oversee, made their fortunes while in office. In this case "little help" sometimes rhymes with "insider information."

Given the nation's lousy economic situation, voter unrest and the impending November elections, Congress finally (belatedly) has closed the door (maybe) on insider trading with the passage of the so-called STOCK law. But misery, as often happens, loves company. Congress figured if it was going to do it to itself, it might as well include a batch of relatively high-paid bureaucrats too. While that might make sense, in some cases, some people say the law of unintended consequences may come into play.

The Senior Executives Association says most of the people who may be hurt by the new — designed to prevent elected officials from using inside information to fatten their portfolios, purchase a second or third home or otherwise rake in big bucks — are thousands of career government executives who will soon appear financially naked in public. SEA says the disclosure portions of the new law, when implemented, could make many of the executives (and spouses) easier targets for identity theft.

For years, the SEA has said that pay caps on the federal Senior Executive Service prevent some outstanding GS workers from moving into the SES. Now it says the STOCK Act is another reason for top feds to boycott the executive ranks, and that it might encourage some SES members to take earlier retirement.

SES salaries range from $119,554 to $179,700. Pay for GS 15 employees, at the top step, is capped at $155,500.

Diet pay for contractors

The Senate Armed Services Committee has voted to cap defense contractors' maximum salaries at $230,700. That would put them on par with Vice President Joe Biden. The current ceiling on DoD contractor pay is $763,019 (an interestingly precise number) which is, by all standards, a living wage. Some insiders believe the new cap will be modified dramatically or delayed until after the election when it will quietly fade away.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

By Jack Moore

Most of famed newsman Walter Cronkite's new bulletins from the 1960s are lost to history, Mental Floss reports. Aside from the bulletins announcing the assassination of President Kennedy and the the Cuban Missile Crisis, few other clips were "deemed worthy of saving" by CBS.


MORE FROM FEDERAL NEWS RADIO

House committee remains mum on federal pay raises
The House Appropriations Committee Tuesday sent its version of next year's Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill to the full chamber without language about salary increases. In doing so, panel members followed the Senate Appropriations Committee, which also opted to stay silent on the issue. The question remaining deals with how, if at all, Congress would address compensation.

Federal job hunt made easier for outgoing military members
Active-duty military expected to be discharged under honorable conditions now can start their federal job hunt with one less hoop to jump through. Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry released a memo Friday providing guidelines, facts and frequently asked questions for the VOW (Veterans Opportunity to Work) to Hire Heroes Act.

GAO gives Congress a hand for using data to make decisions
The Government Accountability office sent Congress a 34-page guideline Friday detailing how Congress can use performance data to make better choices. The updated instruction under the Government Performance Results Modernization Act (GPRMA) of 2010 provides Congress with a how-to guide to make better use of the information agencies give them from their performance reports.