4:48 pm, July 10, 2014

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  • inadequate reporting of hugely signficant matters
    pensioner
    This is yet another column that falls woefully short in reporting what is likely to shape up as the biggest changes, none of them good, to federal pay and benefits. Pitiful that we get at most superficial details of what is being negotiated in Congress, and little by way of discussion of what those changes would mean financially to current and retired feds. (Would increased retirement contributions be paid with after-tax dollars, making them MUCH more expensive than 5-5.5%???) No one likes to hear that their benefits are to be reduced, but if the reduction is not to be too draconian, and a change in the way COLAs are calculated that at most would mean .5% less of a bump in any given year, that "pain" shared by military retirees and Social Security recipients too, that shouldn't be nearly as ire-provoking as a much bigger, screw-civil-servants change.
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  • Catch 22
    contrarian
    Many special interests have a conundrum because their groups have thrown them under the bus or sit by and watch while the disaster happens. You know what I'm talking about. Plus, as Mike has pointed out for at least the 20 years I've been reading him, bad proposals have been a constant, so crying wolf has been a way of life. But misinformation shouldn't be posted here: e.g. a 5% FERS annuity increase in contributions is an AFTER TAX pay cut because you pay taxes that money, so, your take home would go down 5%. Many people don't get it. Let's hope this one is a false alarm.
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  • Not quite
    Larry in MD
    It is more than the 5% of you lose. It is all in how you look at it. The extra 5% is out of your gross income. But you don't get all of your gross income now - some goes to social security, TSP, taxes, health insurance and the like. The taxes on that 5% are already being paid. So in the end you lose the 5% of gross, but you will see it as a reduction in you net income. There is is likely to be in the 7-9% range. This of it this way. If you make $75,000 they are going to take another $3,750 out towards your retirement. But if your take home pay is now $50,000 you are going to loss $3,750 of that $50,000. That works out to a reduction of 7.5% of you net take home pay.
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  • Grandma's tax increase
    O2B XFed
    The Republicans say "no new taxes" but gaming the system to lower the future COLA for social security (and federal retirement) is effectively raising Grandma's tax rate. It is even worse than the apparent 1/2% raise because it compounds into a bigger "tax increase" annually. It sure is nice that the Republicans don't want to tax oil companies or corporate jets or hedge fund operators but have no trouble piling it on Grandma! Obama is right that everyone is going to need to feel some pain to get the deficient under control, but so far the "everyone" seems pretty one sided. Hopefully that will change over the next few weeks.
    Finally ExFed
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  • I wish you were right
    Moderate
    I wish you were right, but I am not hopeful. You are writing about taxing the Republicans' constituency, mainly the wealthy and the big companies. They will resist that. The Republicans would rather attack the middle class, such as fed workers, medicare people, non wealthy retirees on social security plus a small amount of other income, etc. Of course, there are 2 questions. The first is whetrher the Democrats will have the backbone to say no to the Republicans unless they concede items also. The second is whether the Republicans are willing to default rather than compromise. Your guess is as good as mine, which is not very good.
    worker
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  • Constituency
    Zoopy
    Are you saying that Democrats fund their campaigns with less corporate/elite money than do Republicans?
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  • translation
    Jerry A.
    Translating Fox/GOP-speak, "elite" = educated. Up until recently, being educated was seen as a good thing. An educated worker is more productive. An educated voter can make an informed decision, balancing helping both himself and the country. When did being uneducated and uninformed become a virtue?
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  • To Zoopy
    Moderate
    I cannot say how either party is funded. Just look at the comments from each party. Who are the ones who are pushing for the fed pay freezes? It is the Republicans plus their lackeys, the Heritage Foundation plus CATO. Who are the ones who will not touch the taxes on the wealthy? It is the Republicans. Who are the ones who want to cut social security and medicare benefits and not raise those taxes? It is the Republicans?Who passed the Bush tax cuts which favored the wealthy? It was the Republicans. Is there some kind of pattern?
    worker
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  • to moderate
    Joe
    Obama, Pelosi and Reid extended the so-called "Bush" tax cuts before they expired on 12-31-10. If Congress does nothing to Social Security or Medicare then huge cuts will have to be made in the near future (like 2024). Where is the Democrat plan to save Social Security or Medicare? At least the Republicans put forth a plan on Medicare. The Senate Dems have not even passed a budget in the last 800 days. Why are the Dems including Obama such cowards? Oh right, all they can do is demagogue and blame Bush for everything.
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  • To Joe
    Moderate
    You left out some major points. Let us try the Republican filibuster at not allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for the wealthy. So, the Dems caved instead of talking aloud how the Republicans caused the taxes to rise for the middle class. Personally, I would not have allowed the wealthy to continue with the tax cuts, but the Dems chose otherwise. So, please be truthful when you write about how the tax cuts were continued in 2010.---------Yeh, the Republicans have a plan to save medicare and social security. it is called sticking it to the middle class and the lower economic classes. It has been proposed to increase the retirement age to 70, raise the social security taxes by 1% for employee and employer, and raise the social security taxable amount. Where is the Republican backing for these items? Oh, it will hurt the wealthy, the Republican backers.--------Why hasn't a budget passed? Talk to the say no Republicans in Congress. They block any budgets.------ Speaking of demagogues, you will find them in the Republican block. And yes, you can thank the George Bush depression for the mess we are in.
    worker
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  • Not sharing the burden
    Bill Samuel
    If we are in bad times, shouldn't the burden be shared, and those best off share more? There have been proposals to do this, but they aren't the ones getting the traction. The Republicans say absolutely no to the rich sharing the burden. Based on a faulty trickle down theory, they say we shouldn't ask the rich to contribute because it will hurt everyone. Instead they focus on programs that help the needy and average Americans. If the American economy has greatly benefitted you, you should be willing to share generously of the bounty, which is earned off the labor and purchases of people with much less means. The Obama Administration and the Congress take a very discriminatory attitude in relation to Federal employees. Those in uniform continue to get pay raises and pay virtually nothing for superior medical care. Meanwhile, civilian employees have their pay frozen, and it is proposed that their share of health care premiums go up, their payments for retirement go up, and that their retirement benefits be reduced. And the Administration put a cap of 1% on the pool for the awards of lower paid employees, while making it 5% for the highest paid. If the burdens were shared more equitably, they wouldn't be as crippling. Why should millions of Federal civilian workers suffer poverty in retirement to assuage Obama's guilt at never having served in the military? Special exceptions to the tax code are properly viewed as tax expenditures. They are spending as surely as direct payments from the Federal treasury. Removing loopholes is not increasing taxes; it is decreasing spending. Studies have shown that using the tax code to incentivize behavior usually gets a very poor return on investiment. If we cut the special provisions for special interests in the tax code, the direct subsidies for the wealthy (like to big corporate, highly polluting agriculture), and end imperialist wars (and things like more than 700 major foreign military bases), we can save trillions in spending without reducing retirement income of ordinary Americans from either Social Security or public pensions. There are reasonable and fair ways to address the massive deficit. Why won't the Administration and Congress adopt them?
    Bill Samuel Silver Spring, MD 20906
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  • Not sharing the burden
    LindaH
    Bill I agree with just about everything you wrote, except for the military. Those men and women should get pay raises. I am an ex-military and nobody twisted or forced me to serve this country. I did it on my own accord just as these brave men and women are doing. These people put their LIVES on the line everyday and neither the President nor Congress are that dim-witted whereas to not pay the MILITARY! Here is what the President/Congress do; they take everything out on the backs of the fed employees and middle class citizens. - I have said this many times before and I will say it again. There is NOTHING that the President/Congress can do to solve this debt and economic issues. All the ideas, plotting and planning that these so-called smart people think of will FAIL. This country is headed for a far more drastic state than it already is. The enemy is on the loose in the WH When Obama/Congress are replaced with new faces, the problems are still going to be here and the new President/Congress will create even more lunacy and the country will be so far gone that it is going to take God to bring the USA out. - The problem we have is that these MERE HUMANS think they have ALL the power / answers to solve this and that - These mere men and silly women have no idea how to SOLVE anything, except for oppressing the poor and lifting up their friends the RICH - We need to pray that God, himself give these blind money hungry people wisdom and the knowledge of how to bring this country out of the muck and mire. As you know (Im about sure), the nation itself and the rest of the world can see that the USA President/Congress are grasping for very thin straws.
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  • The military
    Moderate
    I will not quarrel with you on military pay unless it is just for a favored desk jockey if they exist. But what about all of the planes, boats, bases outside of the United States, possible over paying for things, etc. I do not know all of the details, but could much of that be eliminated? How much can we afford?On the other hand, should space projects, which lead to various advances, be increased instead of being cut.
    worker
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  • Sharing the Burden?
    Joe
    If the govt were to tax all income over $500,000 at a 100% tax rate it would collect only another $920billion in taxes which would only cover 2/3 of the deficit. Of course, at a 100% tax rate there would be rampant cheating on taxes or a flight out of the US by the wealthy. Tax revenues would probably decline from current levels. This group paid $347 billion in taxes in 2008 (latest year available from IRS) or 32% of all individual income taxes. Their share of the population is 0.83% and their share of income is 22%. The bottom 47% of all tax returns have zero or negative income tax. How are the wealthy not bearing their fair share of the tax burden? ___________________________________________ All this talk about the Bush (now Obama since he extended them) tax cuts causing the deficit is ludicrous. Restoring the tax rates to Clinton levels will raise only $70 billion a year (not even 5% of the deficit).
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  • To Joe
    Moderate
    Your 100% comments are pure nonsense and not worth commenting on beyond that. Additionally, the bottom percentage pay no taxes because they have no money to pay taxes. Would you like their pound of flesh instead? please give us the web site for this statiistical information. I would like to see it.------------I already commented about your nonsense about the tax cut extenmtions in 2010. See my comments above.
    worker
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  • So where is the cite for your stats?
    Moderate
    I would like to view them. Surely, you can provide that information.
    worker
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  • Increased pension contributions are necessary....
    Tom McKinney
    for Active Federal Employees....Pension funding for the U.S. Government's Civil Service Retirement and Disability Retirement Trust Fund (CSRDF) is only 50%. The pension liability is $1 Trillion 550 Billion and the CSRDF assets are around $780 Billion......This leaves the CSRDF with an unfunded actuarial pension liability of $674 Billion. Source: www.opm.gov/gpra Then click on 2010 AFR. (The $1.55 Trillion includes both CSRS and FERS active and retired federal employees).......Tom McKinney Dunwoody Georgia
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  • Increased costs to Feds will not result in increased contributions to pension plans.
    Jerry A.
    Tom McKinney, The increased costs to Federal employees will not result in increased contributions to the pension plans. The employee share will go up, and the employer share will go down by the same amount. This is seen by the Republican/Tea Party proposers as a way for the government to save money, but it will not help us in our retirement. We will simply get a 6-8% pay cut (net 5% to pension plan after taxes). Jerry
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  • 50% Funded
    Joe
    At least the CSDRF is 50% funded. Social Security is 0% funded since all the surpluses were spent years ago.
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  • To Tom, I believe a retired fed
    Moderate
    Since you advocate sticking the burden on others, how about if you give up your retirement benefits and then do the talking. You want others to take the heat.
    worker
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  • Retired Federal Employees are willing.........
    Tom McKinney
    to share the burden........Please share your strategic plan on what we need to do!....I am willing....We are aware that 2.4 million retired federal employees did not contribute the necessary amount into the CSRDF....Because we only contributed 7%--since 1969--the unfunded pension liability stands today at $674 Billion...In 1969 the unfunded pension liability stood around $50 Billion (Source: U.S. OPM's FY 2010 Agency Financial Report)....Please put a plan on the table........Thank you for your service.....Tom McKinney Dunwoody Georgia
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  • No Tom
    Moderate
    First you speak for yourself. You do not speak for retired employees. Second, I am already underpaid according to the paymaster. I have been underpaid since the Reagan years. I should not have the rules changed because my employer allegedly screwed up. My employer is required to fund my CSRS plan. As I said before, you should give up your pension to show how sincere you are. And do not volunteer anyone else to do so.
    worker
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