Official Washington (the politicians, the press, think tankers and various talking heads) is, as always, preoccupied with the crisis du jour, which, fortunately for the 24/7 news cycle, can and does change frequently — yet always includes the Middle East.
Current topics include:
Will we be sequestered (whatever that is)?
How will Syria play out?
Are we going over the fiscal cliff?
Is Egypt a friend or foe?
Which of our neighbors will star in the next celeb sex scandal, etc.?
Climate change and other topics to be announced.
All of the above are fine. But in the real world, not so much …
The question of the hour — for millions of feds and non-feds — is simple:
Will the White House declare Monday, Dec. 24, as a bonus holiday (or at least a day off) for non-emergency federal workers. Simple question. Not a simple decision.
In the past, more often than not, feds have gotten time off when Christmas Eve falls on either a Monday (as it does this year) or a Friday. But that is not chiseled in stone anywhere.
For federal workers (most of them anyhow), it is a no-brainer. The Monday before or Friday after are pretty much dead days as far as productivity is concerned. Why heat up the building and turn on the lights for one day? Why not let millions of feds have an extra day to shop, park, spend and eat out or travel. It could do wonders for the economy in places like D.C. and other cities that have a high percentage of federal workers.
Giving feds an extra day off would, indirectly, help the commute of those of us who must work that day. Absent school buses and federal rush hour traffic, getting to the office would be a breeze for us.
Some government contractors would be in a bind because when you don’t work and get paid they don’t work but don’t get paid either.
Here at Federal News Radio, we got our first bonus holiday query in July. Somebody was obviously thinking ahead. We’ve written about it a couple of times — perhaps scooping the competition on what some would consider a non-story — and gotten lots of responses. For the track-record, click here.
The problem this year is the economy and the perils — real or contrived — facing it. And us.
For most policymakers, it should be an easy call: We’ve done it before, let’s do it again.
But while the politicians haggle (or do nothing) about the fast-approaching fiscal cliff they created, would it be a good year to let federal workers have an extra day off? Would that play well in Peoria and other places where people don’t have jobs? Either way, Congress, which just returned this week, will almost certainly be off.
A surprising number of feds have told us that while they would love the day off (and after two years in a pay deep-freeze, deserve it) they could understand if it doesn’t happen. Many say they plan to take time off either way.
In the past, when presidents gave feds a bonus day off, the call was made in late November or early December. President George W. Bush waited until Dec. 9 one year. The problem is that it’s already Dec. 11.
So what’s your thought? Big deal and deserved. Or not such a good idea this year?
Before the advent of wrapping paper, Christmas presents were typically concealed in tissue paper. In 1917, after a particularly busy shopping day, stationery salesmen J.C. and Rollie Hall (owners of the eponymous Hallmark store) ran out of tissue paper and started selling “fancy French paper meant for lining envelopes” instead.
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