The problem and solution are the same thing: You!

Thursday - 12/5/2013, 2:00am EST

What do so many Washington-based politicians have in common with a handful of firefighters whose off-duty-hobby is arson?

Answer: Both spend a lot of time solving problems — putting out fires — they started. Case in point:

Congress and the White House are working on ways to save the nation, the military, public services and taxpayers from a second round of cuts mandated by sequestration. So far, so good. Except ...

Sequestration was created at the White House as a poison pill. Congressional Republicans swallowed it, even after both sides said it was unthinkable. And stupid!

Round one wasn't as bad as many predicted. Many agencies used creative accounting to avoid the worst. Although many feds were furloughed briefly without pay, even more ended up being paid to stay home because of the government shutdown. While the shutdown unnerved many workers, forcing many to apply for loans, the main impact was on the public.

Many groups representing rank-and-file federal workers are at a loss because their members are being fired on from Capitol Hill and the White House too.

The latest flap is a legislative effort to ease the impact of sequestration on the military by charging feds more for their pensions and cutting future cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security, federal and military retirement benefits. While the legislative effort is being led by House Republicans Doug Lamborn of Colorado and Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma, the proposals have the backing of the Obama administration too.

Lamborn and Bridenstine could get some back-home push-back from many of their voters. Both states have disproportionately large numbers of federal workers.

Feds must feel like the boxer who was getting punched by his opponent and the referee too!

The House plan would also eliminate government bridge payments to FERS employees who retire before they become eligible for Social Security. They can be worth several thousand dollars each year.

The two big-ticket items, both of which are in President Obama's budget, call for federal workers to kick in more toward their own retirement and for a change in the way retiree COLAs are calculated and paid.

If enacted, workers under the FERS program would see their retirement contributions increase from 0.8 percent to 2 percent over a three-year phase-in period. The White House has already proposed a smaller increase, but is open to the idea.

The killer item in the plan, also favored by the administration, would be to base future inflation-catchup adjustments (COLAs) for retirees on something called the chained CPI (for consumer price index). Backers say it would save well over $200 billion over a 10-year period. That would happen because using the new yardstick will reduce future raises an estimated 0.3 percent with each COLA. The White House plan would hit military retirees and people who get Social Security benefits too. Benefits would continue to rise with inflation, just not as much. The National Active and Retired Federal Employees estimates that a federal worker who retired 25 years under the new system would lose an average of $48,000 in payments.

Meantime, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) has written the four-member joint Senate-House Budget Committee urging it to lay off feds. He pointed out that they've been furloughed, forced to stay home and had their pay frozen for four years while putting their lives on the line every day — from the Navy Yard to LAX airport.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

Compiled by Jack Moore

The term for a formal dinner jacket — tuxedo — is actually named for a place, specifically the Tuxedo Park Club in New York. King Edward VII is known for popularizing the style, but it remained nameless until an American friend wore it it to the tony club in New York's Ramapo Mountains.

(Source: Mental Floss)


MORE FROM FEDERAL NEWS RADIO

New bill aims to cancel sequestration for DoD at cost to feds' pay and benefits
Reps. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) introduced a bill Tuesday to cancel sequestration for the Defense Department for two years. The bill would offset this change by using a chained CPI to calculate COLAs for federal retirement programs and requiring federal employees to contribute more of their salary toward their pensions.

Mica says agencies 'thwarting' proposed FTC relocation
Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Oversight's Subcommittee on Government Operations, said the Federal Trade Commission and the General Services Administration are "thwarting" his proposal to force the FTC to relocate out of its historic headquarters building and into leased space in Southwest Washington, D.C.