Thanks to Congress, federal workers, members of the media and used-car salesmen who wear plaid jackets, red pants and dye their mustaches, are no longer at the top of the MLP (“Most Loathed Professions”) list. Members of the House and Senate have managed to win that dubious achievement thanks to what they’ve done (not that much) but mostly because of what they haven’t done in recent years.
And while it is comforting not to be No. 1 on the MLP’s S (for super) hit-list, feds, postal employees and retirees are walking a public relations mine field as they fight off proposals to trim pensions, freeze pay, up their retirement-plan contributions and protect their transit subsidy from being reduced.
Feds can correctly point out that the two-year (2011-2012) pay freeze suggested by the White House has or will cost them $60 billion in lost wages over the next 10 years. And they can well argue that extending that freeze for another three years (under serious consideration) could cost the government its best and brightest. But it’s important to remember that many private-sector employees have also had their pay frozen (and in many cases, cut), been subject to furloughs or have joined the ranks of the unemployed. A number of private firms eliminated matching contributions to employee 401(k) plans. Most American workers don’t get a tax-free $230 transit subsidy each month so it is unlikely they will march on Washington if Congress whittles it back to $120 per month.
The House had scheduled a vote on the cuts yesterday as part of a proposal to extend the payroll tax cuts for another year. It was expected to pass (again) then be declared Dead-On-Arrival by the Senate. They’ve been approved, then rejected, before. And regardless of Tuesday’s vote they will be back. Maybe this year, certainly next year as part of a deficit-reduction package.
Thanks to partisan state legislatures — Democratic and Republican — more and more congressional districts are redrawn to insure one-party domination. In effect the politicians are deciding who they will allow to vote for them. Some think this has made politicians, especially super-ideological types of both the left and right, even more rigid.
The bottom line is that feds are in the cross-hairs of lots of politicos and pressure groups and major media outlets who see civil servants as pampered, overpaid and insulated from the realities of the marketplace.
Today at 10 a.m., EST on our Your Turn radio show, Jessica Klement of the Federal Managers Association will talk about the threats facing feds and the difficulty of navigating a sometimes hostile sea of press, political types and a confused and angry public.
At 10:30 a.m. Federal Times reporters Stephen Losey and Sean Reilly will talk about the large uptick in retirements and the pressures it will put on OPM’s already overtaxed retirement processing operation
Listen if you can (1500 AM or online), and if you have questions email them to me at email@example.com or call in during the show at (202) 465-3080. The show will be archived here.
Ever hear the myth that daddy longleg spiders are the most venomous type of spider of spider in the world, but their fangs are too weak to break through human skin? Agencies face budget curbs in $1 trillion bill Lawmakers had by Monday reached agreement on most issues on the $1 trillion spending bill, which cuts agency budgets but drops many policy provisions sought by GOP conservatives. It chips away at the Pentagon budget, foreign aid and environmental spending but boosts funding for veterans programs and modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
Mike’s Take: An honest way to make a living? So who’s ahead in the lying game? Men or women? A friend once observed that half the married men in the Washington area are (or say they are) secret agents. Which would explain broken dates, short and long absences (Honey, I was on the ground in Iran or Cuba but I can’t talk about it) or bite marks on the torso.
Are feds prepared for retirement tsunami? Federal managers have long anticipated an impending tidal wave of retirement, when large numbers of baby boomers start filing for their pensions. Recent figures from the Office of Personnel Management are making many feds wonder if it’s time to shout “cowabunga” and prepare to ride that wave out.