Personality-wise are you usually happy or sad? Would friends and family describe you as an upper, or a downer? Cheerful or morose? Do you trust most people, or do you wonder what they are really up to? Were you in an eight-year funk under President Bush? Or has your life been on hold since the last two presidential elections?
Take this Rorschach Test. Do you see Beyonce or Nancy Pelosi? Is it George Clooney or Gary Busey?
Here’s another test:
What do you think about the last-minute budget deal? The one that apparently delays layoffs or furloughs for two years. The one that headed off another government shutdown. The deal that eases some of the mandatory cuts that were to be imposed by sequestration. That one.
The way you view the Ryan-Murray (or Murray-Ryan) budget deal may tell a lot about whether you are a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty person.
National Public Radio said the budget deal infuriated “liberal Democrats and arch conservatives.”
Groups that represent feds and retirees, who oppose any cuts in benefits, protested the deal. But secretly they had to be high-fiving each other because it could have been so much worse.
None of the changes called for in the budget impact a single current federal worker.
The extra 1.3 percent payment employees will make to the FERS retirement plan applies only to people who aren’t yet employees. Feds on the payroll as of Dec. 31 will continue to pay at their current rate. Anyone hired afterward will contribute 4.4 percent to FERS.
Because of an earlier deal, feds hired this year under the FERS plan pay 3.1 percent toward their pensions. All other workers under FERS, about 98 percent of the total employees, will continue to pay only 0.8 percent.
Originally, the House GOP proposal was for a 5.4 percent contribution for all federal workers. The White House wanted worker contributions be raised by 1.2 percent.
The headline, the take-away for feds, is what is not in the Murray-Ryan budget deal. It did not include:
The so-called chained CPI which, if enacted, would permanently reduce future cost-of-living adjustments for retired federal and military personnel and people getting Social Security. On last week’s Your Turn radio show, National Association of Active and Retired Federal Employees’ Jessica Klement said if the chained CPI had been approved it would, over a 25-year period in retirement, trim $48,000 from the benefits of the average fed retired today. Most of them are under the more generous CSRS plan. Incidentally, the chained CPI was also endorsed by the White House and most House Republicans.
A Republican proposal, also backed by the administration, to eliminate the Social Security supplemental. That is a paymnent FERS workers get if they retire before they are eligible for Social Security. That supplement is worth several thousand dollars per early retiree.
The budget didn’t mention any change in the way retirement benefits are computed. For years, cost-cutters have proposed basing annuities on the employees highest five-year average salary, instead of the high-three formula under current law.
The CIA spent five years and $20 million trying to train a cat, outfitted with hidden microphones and transmitters, to act as a sercret spy. However, during the first test mission — involving scoping out a supposed Soviet meeting place in a Washington, D.C., park — the spy cat was struck by a passing taxi and killed, thus ending the project.
Is the budget deal the final word on contractor compensation? Tucked away inside the bipartisan budget deal announced with much fanfare this week is a proposal limiting the maximum level contractors can charge the government to pay the salaries of their top executives to nearly half of what it is currently. But it may not be the final word on the issue on the sticky issue of contractor compensation.