Shows & Panels
- The 2014 Big Picture on Cyber Security
- AFCEA Answers
- Ask the CIO
- Building the Hybrid Cloud
- Connected Government: How to Build and Procure Network Services for the Future
- Continuing Diagnostics and Mitigation: Discussion of Progress and Next Steps
- Federal Executive Forum
- Federal Tech Talk
- The Intersection: Where Technology Meets Transformation
- Maximizing ROI Through Data Center Consolidation
- Moving to the Cloud. What's the best approach for me
- Navigating Tough Choices in Government Cloud Computing
- The New Generation of Database
- Satellite Communications: Acquiring SATCOM in Tight Times
- Targeting Advanced Threats: Proven Methods from Detection through Remediation
- Transformative Technology: Desktop Virtualization in Government
- The Truth About IT Opex and Software Defined Networking
- Value of Health IT
Shows & Panels
A $48K hit to your retirement? Pray For Gridlock!
Friday - 2/21/2014, 1:35pm EST
Could gridlock, caused by the refusal/inability of Congress and the White House to play nice, keep you from losing out on as much as $48,000 in lifetime retirement benefits?
Because this is an election year, Washington's political community — elected politicians, their staff, lobbyists, lawyers, the media and other camp followers — is concentrating on one thing: Getting reelected. That means the other person (incumbent or challenger) gets beat. Bad grammar, but beat it is.
Democrats are desperate to hold onto the Senate. Republicans desperately want to take control of the so-called upper chamber while holding onto the House of Representatives.
To do it, candidates must have (or be perceived to have) brains, talent, integrity, good hair and money. Not necessarily in that order.
Money is the name of the game. And getting it means lunches, dinners and tours (if you have a nice, big home) where the attendees bring their checkbooks.
In addition to $$$, candidates for political office also need votes. Votes from the little people. Ordinary folks, like the one in six Americans who gets Social Security. Which is where election-year gridlock comes in, because...
Gridlock in Washington is terrible!
Except when it isn't!
Politicians — not tsunamis, foreign affairs or even climate change — are the culprits behind gridlock, when little or nothing gets done.
Gridlock can be terrible if you are counting on passage of a piece of legislation that will benefit you or yours. But it can be your best friend when there are lots of options and none of them are good for you.
A long-standing proposal called the chained CPI. The CPI stands for the various consumer price indexes the Labor Department uses to measure prices, costs and the cost of living. Currently it uses the CPI-W to monitor monthly changes in the price of various goods and items on a city-by-city basis. That data is the basis for annual Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) due each January for retirees — federal, military and Social Security. This year the COLA was 1.5 percent.
But a lot of people in Congress think that the current inflation- measuring yardstick overestimates inflation and its impact on people. They proposed using a new measuring tool, the chained CPI. They say it more accurately reflects not only costs, but people's reactions to rising prices. That is, that when things get expensive people adjust and downsize.
- Backers of using the chained CPI say it reflects real-world
habits. When steak gets too expensive, people switch to hamburger or chicken.
Things like that.
- Opponents of the chained CPI say all it would do is punish retirees, especially lower-income individuals. That they would go from steak, to hamburger, to chicken, to cat food.
Groups that oppose using the chained CPI said the savings would come at the expense of individuals. The National Active and Retired Federal Employees says that over a 25-year retirement, the typical civil service retiree (under CSRS) would get $48,000 less in COLAs. For Social Security retirees, the loss would be $23,000 and for military retirees it could be as much as $42,000.
The White House used to support the chained CPI proposal, but just yesterday White House officials announced President Barack Obama was dropping the COLA trims from its budget for fiscal 2015 due out next month.
And there are even more reasons why the chained CPI may be receding as a potential threat. Congress is going to be out of session even more than last year. Most members will be busy raising money for their own campaigns, or to help the party. Groups representing feds, as well as federal, military and Social Security retirees are pressuring key members of Congress. And pushing Democrats to convince the White House not to push the chained CPI this year. Not before an election.
So if that's gridlock, lots of people who do or will depend on COLAs in retirement have got to be saying: Bring it on!
NEARLY USELESS FACTOID
Compiled by Jack Moore
A tacky costume could (theoretically) cost a figure skater a medal. The International Skating Union rulebook allows judges to deduct 1 point from a skater's score for outfits that overly "garish or theatrical in design." However, the costume deduction is rarely used.
MORE FROM FEDERAL NEWS RADIO
Nominations now open for 2014 Causey Awards
Federal News Radio's 5th Annual Causey Awards seek to recognize and honor the good works of people who challenged the status quo and changed, for the better, human capital management. Nominate someone today for his or her outstanding achievements and important human capital/human resources contributions. While we're looking for people who made a difference in the HR world, they don't necessarily have to work in an HR role. In the past, we've honored CIOs, a chief of staff, and an inspector general, in addition to human resources professionals, all for their contributions in the HR arena.
DHS begins to see the light
at the end of employee morale tunnel
Rafael Borras says consistent attention from senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security is starting to change the agency's culture and improve morale. He says the next step is a tactical, sustained effort that involves getting into the organizations with the lowest scores, such as FEMA, CBP and ICE. Borras served as the undersecretary for management at DHS for the last four years. He recently left the agency to return to the private sector.
House Dems, employee groups want
Obama to chuck chained CPI
More than 100 members of the House and a dozen outside groups have signed on to a letter to President Barack Obama from Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) requesting that the upcoming White House budget not include a proposal to alter the way retirees' cost-of-living adjustments are calculated. The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, the American Federation of Government Employees and the Military Officers Association of American have signed on in support of the letter.