Pay raise? Call in the psychics

Thursday - 9/5/2013, 2:00am EDT

So, after three years without a pay raise how are your 2014 finances shaping up? The answer depends on whether you are working or retired. If you are a retired federal worker, a military retiree or you get Social Security benefits, you will get a cost-of-living adjustment in January. Right now, it looks like 1.39 percent. The exact amount of the COLA will be determined by any rise — or fall — in prices for the month of September.

But if you are a still-working fed, your 2014 financial status is still a little murky. Make that very murky.

On the negative side, you can bet your health insurance premiums are going up next year. Maybe taxes too. And it is likely (can you say Syria?) that gasoline will be up as well.

So what about your 2014 pay raise? Where does that stand? To find out, you have two options:

  • You can track the news, minute-by-minute, to see where the 2014 federal raise is heading. You can listen to panels made up of experts on Congress and the pay process. They are always happy to speculate. You can follow the progress of the president's budget (which calls for a 1 percent raise), and the budgets in the works in the House and Senate.

  • You can go to the nearest tarot card reader or the psychic of your choice and ask him or her what your paycheck will look like in January. If he or she deals you the Ace of Pentacles your prayers have come true. No more pay freeze ... maybe.

Judging by Wanda the Fortune Teller's reaction, it's not looking too good for feds (Photo: Thinkstock)

The problem is that despite the speed and scrutiny of the 24/7 political news cycle, nobody has any idea what Congress is going to do — with the exception of taking time off.

Useful information (like the status of a possible $2 billion, 2014 pay raise) is hard to come by because the political situation is so strained and confusing. Senate Democrats will probably go along with the 1 percent pay proposal. But the House — which favors a 1.8 percent raise for uniformed military personnel — probably won't. Stalemate.

The pay raise could also fall victim to the upcoming battle over raising the debt limit. The three-year pay freeze could be extended when/if Congress and the White House reach agreement on a short- (or long-) term continuing resolution. The CR will be necessary since Congress hasn't approved budgets for the fiscal year that begins in October.

If Congress and the White House agree to a CR or on the debt ceiling, it could be a temporary measure that would expire in January or March of next year. It is unlikely that it would include a pay raise until the budget or borrowing issues were settled.

Checkmate.

Bottom line is nobody knows. Considering this is Washington, maybe that isn't such a big surprise.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

Compiled by Jack Moore

There are many terms in foreign languages that have no equivalent in English. Among them: the Hawaiin phrase Pana Poʻo, which describes the act of scratching your head to help you remember something you've forgotten. The Italian word culaccino describes the ring of water left on a table by a cold glass

(Source: Huffington Post)


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