Feds have sacrificed enough, federal groups tell supercommittee

Wednesday - 9/28/2011, 6:02pm EDT

A coalition of 21 federal unions and associations is urging Congress to reject President Barack Obama's proposed increase in employee retirement contributions, saying federal workers are sacrificing enough through pay freezes and program budget cuts.

"At a time when the President is providing payroll tax decreases to other American workers in the name of stimulus and economic recovery, an increase in the federal employee retirement contribution is contrary public policy and simply unfair," the Federal-Postal Coalition wrote in a letter to the co-chairs of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, dubbed the "supercommittee," which must deliver a plan by Thanksgiving to cut the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion.

Obama has proposed increasing federal employee retirement contributions by 1.2 percent beginning in 2013.

"Federal employees have already made a $60 billion sacrifice in the form of a pay freeze and are now facing layoffs and downsizing due to shrinking agency budgets," said National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen M. Kelley in an email announcing NTEU's participation in the coalition's letter. "The proposal by the White House to further penalize federal employees is simply unfair and unacceptable. We join with the coalition in calling on the super committee to reject these harmful proposals."

The coalition, which includes postal unions, also opposes the Postal Service's plan to cut Saturday mail delivery. Both Obama and GOP lawmakers support giving the Postal Service flexibility to adjust its delivery schedule.

The coalition said it supported several of the President's budget reduction plans, however, including:

  • Capping federal reimbursements for contractor salaries at $200,000 rather than the current $700,000

  • Saving $1.6 billion on prescription drugs by allowing the Office of Personnel Management to negotiate drug prices through a single contract.

  • Giving the IRS more resources to enforce tax laws and regulations.
If the supercommittee doesn't come up with a plan by Thanksgiving, or if Congress rejects it, then across-the-board cuts are supposed to kick in. The coalition warns that would lead to "wasteful privatization and the use of contractors to perform functions that are too important or sensitive to be outsourced at a much higher price."

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