Presidential surprises - don't be surprised!

Wednesday - 11/7/2012, 2:00am EST

Mike Causey on The Federal Drive

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(This was written hours before the polls closed on what we were told would be a very-close election. The winner, for purposes of this piece, doesn't really matter. The point is that whoever it is will probably have a lot of surprises, good and bad, for a lot of people. Including people who work for the federal government.)

Whether the POTUS is a re-elected lame duck or a newcomer to the White House, the commander-in-chief is also the CEO of the federal civil service. And what you see (or think you see) or hear him say, isn't always what you get. For instance:

Shortly after Ronald Reagan was elected, a Washington newspaper predicted that our D.C.-Maryland-Virginia-West Virginia metro area would be plunged into a recession because it said the new president would "decimate" the government and cut federal employment, the primary support system even for those of us here who don't work for the government.

The prediction made perfect sense. Except that it didn't happen. The overall number of federal workers (especially in Defense-related areas) and contractors increased.

Ironically, one of only two federal unions to support Reagan was PATCO. The Professional Air Traffic Controllers. They expected to be tight with the new president. But when PATCO members went out on an illegal strike over wages, Reagan fired those who refused to return by a certain deadline.

When President Bill Clinton was elected, federal unions cheered. Yet one of his first orders of business was to propose a one-year pay freeze instead of the increase called for in a bipartisan 1990 law designed to close the gap between federal and private-sector pay. Clinton continued to propose smaller raises than those called for by the pay act for the rest of his administration. He said — and many agreed — that the value of federal benefits, such as vacations, holidays, sick leave and retirement should be included in a "total compensation" match-up between the feds and the private sector.

When George W. Bush came into office, he stuck with the precedent of proposing smaller raises than those called for by the federal pay law that his father — and a Democratic Congress — had promised and approved.

Go figure...

President Barack Obama won the enthusiastic endorsement of federal and postal unions in 2008. So they were disappointed (to say the least!) when he proposed a two-year freeze on federal salaries and proposed that feds contribute a larger share of their salaries toward their retirement. His proposal is more modest than a congressional GOP plan, but still...

So what do the next four years hold for feds? Will the government go off the fiscal cliff, and take you (and the rest of us) with it? Can and will congressional Republicans and Democrats learn to get along (or at least tolerate each other) and get back to basics — like approving budgets and maybe fewer vacations.

What do you think? Whether you are a relative newcomer, an old hand or somebody in mid-career you must have some idea as to what's next for you and the government. Somebody is bound to be right.

Medicare Part B. Who needs it?

Many federal retirees and their survivors are just fine without Medicare, if they have one of the federal health plans. So who are these people, and what are those plans? Today on our Your Turn radio show, David Snell from the National Active and Retired Federal Employees talks about best buys for retirees. The health insurance hunting season begins next Monday.

Politics, sequestration, POTUS

Also on the show, Federal Times senior writer Sean Reilly talks about what the election may mean for feds, the consequences of falling off the fiscal cliff and the latest on the U.S. Postal Service plans to slim down and stay alive.

Listen if you can (1500 AM or online), and if you have questions email them to me at mcausey@federalnewsradio.com or call in during the show at (202) 465-3080. The show will be archived here.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

By Jack Moore

Vice President Joe Biden admitted he's watched snippets of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" aboard Air Force Two.

(Source: ABC News)


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