For Feds, True Grit May Not Be Enough

The Internal Revenue Service is said to take in about $5 for every $1 it spends. A lot of private sector businesses would like to get that kind of bang for their buck. Yet congressional Republicans are seeking to cut IRS funds at a time when Uncle needs revenue to pay off his/our IOUs to China. Also the number of tax cheats seems to be on the rise.

Congress and the White House want feds to do more with less, having seemingly adopted the “Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves” approach. Starting with the in-place two year federal pay freeze which may be stretched to a 3 to 5 year drought in the wallet. Meanwhile taxes (and health insurance premiums) are likely to keep going up.

Politicians of both political parties, while expressing public contempt for those slimy earmarks, continue to use the budget to pump up pet projects and kill off those they don’t like. When in power Republicans and Democrats seem to have mastered the art of not doing their primary job, which is to approve budgets and appropriate money. Federal agencies continue to operate under continuing resolutions (CRs) which most pros agree is no way to run a railroad, pizza shop, much less a national government.

Important in-charge House members want to limit the federal role in dozens of areas from food inspection to airport security, while the administration wants to bring jobs outsourced by the Clinton and Bush administrations back into the federal fold. Their hope is to trim government by 200,000 jobs and maybe impose a 10 day furlough on non-emergency feds. The White House, in stark contrast, is seeking to hire about 15,000 new workers as part of its reorganization plans.


Meantime federal workers are concerned with in-the-works proposals to trim retirement benefits (by basing annuities on the highest 5 year average salary) that would reduce future benefits thousands of dollars per year per retiree. So what are the odds that will happen? And if it does, will it apply to future retirees or made retroactive? Normally that would be a silly option, but these are not normal times.

So let’s go to the pros.

Today at 10 a.m. Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union compares the Obama administration budget plan with the very different budget cleared by the House Appropriations Committee. She’ll focus on their impact(s) on IRS, Small Business Administration, the SEC, Customs and Border Protection, and Health and Human Services.

On the same Your Turn radio show, Federal Times editor Steve Watkins and reporter Sean Reilly will talk about both budget plans, the status of the Continuing Resolution, and give you an update on what’s happening with the U.S. Postal Service.

If you have questions for us, you can email them to me: or call in while we are on air at 202.465.3080.

Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

Today’s NUF is from MentalFloss’s “Puppies Wearing Hats Eating Bacon Sharing Facts”:


Causey analysis: How will the 2012 budget affect you?
Congress is debating the 2012 budget when it still has the 2011 budget to pass. How will the budget battles ahead affects feds?

Can government reorg produce real efficiency?
American University’s Beryl Radin – who’s written the book on government reorganization – explains why reorgs are complicated, challenging and may not produce the results that lawmakers claim they do.