Lonely Fed ISO Good News

Tuesday - 9/13/2011, 2:01am EDT

While Congress and the White House make jobs a top priority, the Postal Service is hoping to eliminate tens of thousands of jobs, FAA workers (and thousands of contractors) suffer no-fault furloughs and all federal agencies are bracing for budget cuts that will trim their payrolls — and maybe put some unwilling feds on the street.

In August, political catfighting in Congress resulted in furloughs without pay for 4,000 FAA workers and 70,000 private contractors. Many of them had to get emergency loans and apply for unemployment benefits. Now that Congress is moving to give back pay the the feds (but not the bigger private-sector group), those who got unemployment will have to pay it back — or face serious criminal charges.

Congress did, however, have a nice long vacation, so all isn't lost!

Congress is now working on a variety of stopgap plans that will keep the government in general — and FAA in particular — running while it attempts to okay agency budgets and approve appropriations. The current fiscal year ends Sept. 30. And there are efforts, with very long odds, to "save" the Postal Service.

Meantime, in late November, the congressional super committee (which had its first, vacation-delayed organizational meeting last week) is supposed to come up with a series of take-it-or-leave it proposals to trim federal spending. Congress (if all goes according to plan) will take an up-or-down vote on the deficit-reduction package in December.

The number of federal agencies offering buyouts ($25k before deductions) is growing and most the openings created will not be filled.

Based on what similar groups suggested (but failed to act on) earlier this year, the federal benefit program could be a primary target: Items on the potential hit list include a change in the way pension benefits are calculated (basing them on your highest 5-year average salary instead of the high-3 system used today); using a new yardstick to measure inflation that would reduce future retiree COLAs as much as .5 percent each year; requiring feds to pay contribute more to their CSRS and FERS retirement packages, and eliminating the defined benefit (civil service annuity) component of the federal retirement program for new hires. Oh, and nearly double the amount of money workers and retirees pay in health premiums. Almost forgot that one.

A year long media campaign — depicting feds as fire-proof, six-figure ingrates — has helped focus political fire on the government.

Meantime, a long-time, long-suffering fed asked us to pass on his comments to Congress So here goes:

" A note to point out that while it appears that the stereotypical 'fed' for purposes of Congress' discussions, is a GS-14 making 100K with an employed spouse, living quite comfortably in suburban America, there seems to be a whole group that's under the radar. During my career I worked with thousands of GS-5, 6, 7, 8's and 9's with and without families, hoping for overtime to fund Xmas. These are men and women working shiftwork, guarding federal prisoners, our borders, patrolling our national parks, etc. The slash and burn decisions lurking in the future will annoy SES's, anger the 14's but it will severely hurt these folks. These are not overpaid, underperforming slugs responsible for the Nation's fiscal woes. They do not deserve pay freezes, recomputed annuities and doubled health premiums. Could it be that Congress doesn't see any distinction between the potential impact(s) upon these dedicated public servants and their "program manager" Beltway counterparts??" Ringtail


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

By Jack Moore

How does your doctor's stethoscope hang? This was the query investigated by a Johns Hopkins University doctor, which involved a cross-sectional questionnaire survey of 186 medical doctors, ImprobableResearch.com reports. The study found that 60 percent of doctors surveyed demonstrated a preference for letting their stethoscope hang to the right.


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