Suppose your spouse or significant other announced that, starting early next month, he or she was going to be having a series of frequent headaches. As in the I’m-not-interested-darling or the even more severe touch-me-and-you-die-you-rat, variety!
And suppose the couple next door — same age, same income, same time together — was behaving like newlyweds?
Well, Uncle Sam has a headache. And different federal agencies are handling it differently. Very differently.
The headache was triggered by the White House-designed, congressionally-approved sequestration process. It calls for across-the-board cuts in most federal agencies and spending. Sequestration was designed to be a poison pill that would be so awful politicians would compromise on spending cuts and higher taxes. That didn’t happen. Democrats say the GOP wouldn’t play ball. Republicans say the Democrats moved the negotiating goal post. Whatever …
Now we have sequestration. But there is nothing uniform about it. Except that most of the high-profile places — Defense, the FBI, Customs and Border Protection — have announced they will be hit hard and have to furlough front-line, crime and terrorist-fighting employees for lengthy periods. Defense says 22 days for 780,000 civilians. CBP is talking 14 days for 60,000 workers as is Homeland Security and the FBI. The IRS is looking at five to seven days of furloughs — after they collect the money to run what’s left of the government.
Agriculture, and other agencies with less direct contact with the majority of the public, don’t have such draconian plans. They are saying they can weather the storm with things like a hiring freeze. Social Security believes it can avoid furloughs. That could be the result of good management or word from politicians — who have their own reasons for scaring and irritating the public — not to rock the boat with older voters.
Workers at Health and Human Services are waiting to hear what sequestration will do to them. One employee said:
“Since HHS has, I believe, 60,000 federal employees and numerous agencies and offices, they should be reporting something. I can tell you the employees here, including myself and my staff, are perplexed and confused why HHS always seems to be shrouded in secrecy. It would be really nice and perhaps even a professional courtesy to us if they could report something.
Another employee, a long-timer with the Justice Department put it:
“Great article yesterday. For me, too many of today’s government ‘leaders’ are too quick to put the worst face on a tough situation rather than rolling up their sleeves and taking the Rosie the Riveter approach of ‘We can do it.’ The federal circus is becoming so bad that P.T. Barnum wouldn’t have bid on it even if at foreclosure pricing. … Gee – I hope I didn’t offend anyone or say something politically incorrect. I’ll kick it to media relations for a spin job and damage control. Barf!” — Anon
So, what’s the latest furlough information. Check out our furlough tracker for the latest.
In 1897, the Indiana state legislature considered a bill that would have redefined pi (the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter) from 3.14 to 3.2. Click here for the full story behind the math-challenged bill.
One says federal workers are overpaid and unfairly benefit from a too-generous retirement package. The other says federal employees have “borne the brunt” of recent spending reductions through a pay freeze and the threat of furloughs.
Agencies reducing services even before furloughs occur Employees at TSA, Customs and Border Protection and Bureau of Prisons will no longer be able to work overtime. SSA has offered its employees a new round of early retirements to deal with budget shortfalls. The American Federation of Government Employees says it is continuing to press Congress and the White House to stop sequestration.
Senate panel set to approve 2014 budget sparing safety net programs The Senate Budget Committee is expected to vote today on the chamber’s first budget since President Barack Obama took office. The measure spreads $1 trillion in cuts to health care providers, the Department of Defense and domestic agencies as well as interest on the debt. The House Budget Committee approved its own version of a 2014 budget yesterday.