Vacationing politicians vs. furloughed feds

If you live in the D.C. area you know that July, and especially August, are the best months to be here.

Or, if you are a frequent visitor, you’ve probably figured that out too.

If you have never been here, trust me, head for your nation’s capital right now.

Of course it is hot here. It’s summer! But not as hot as St. Louis, Louisville or sometimes even Chicago.


Of course it is humid here, but not as bad as New Orleans, Savannah and (again, sorry) St. Louis.

What makes Washington, D.C., such a great place in July and August is that the career politicians — the people you send us to represent you in Congress — are out of town. Instead of not working here, they are not working somewhere else. Also absent are their footmen and horseholders. Lobbyists and lawyers also disappear in July and August for extended visits to tony beaches or the Berkshires or Aspen. Those who can’t afford plush beach or lakeside resorts hole up in motels in nearby Maryland and Virginia. Wherever they are, they are not here. Which is the point.

Traffic is lighter than usual. Normally busy restaurants are more customer-friendly and people seem nicer. Maybe because so many of the “left behind” people are nice.

Thanks to Congress and the White House’s sequestration plan, traffic is even lighter than usual. Washington is chock full of feds and many of them are being furloughed, while the politicians who devised the plan continue to get paid whether working, playing or traveling. IRS employees have had at least two furlough days with more to come. Defense civilians — 850,000 of them — had their first no-pay day yesterday.

The media has polled everybody (politicians, taxpayers, contractors) as to how they feel about the partial government shutdowns at IRS, EPA, HUD and now DoD. But apparently we forgot to ask the people who are most affected. You. Hence this letter from a beaten-down-fed:

…I am disappointed to see a (furlough) Survey for Contractors but not federal employees.

I was disappointed to hear the President would take a $100 million vacation on taxpayer money when that money could have paid my salary for the 11 days I will not be paid. He is a government employee just as I am. I have to pay for my own vacations — which I can only afford stay-cations.

“He also gave $7 billion away and with that all Federal employees did not have to lose 11 days of pay.

“Those non-pay days could cause me to lose my home because I live paycheck-to-paycheck and won’t be able to pay all my bills. So my credit rating will be affected and money for support and mortgage and all the rest will be affected.

I have not found anyone telling us where to get help if any is available. This could continue for 10 years or more.

I do not hear media of any kind talking about the impact this will have on all employees.

If there is a survey for federal employees. please lead me to it. — Furloughed Army Civilian


Compiled by Jack Moore

When Twinkies return to stores next week, the spongy yellow snack food will have a longer shelf life than before: 45 days, almost three weeks longer than previous shelf life of 26 days

(Source: AP)


Pentagon civilian workers face first of 11 furlough days Monday
Approximately 85 percent of the Defense Department’s civilian workforce — more than 650,000 employees — will be staying home Monday, as the first of DoD’s cost-cutting furlough days goes into effect. The furloughs were put in place to offset automatic, across-the-board spending cuts implemented by sequestration. DoD estimates the furloughs will save between $1.9 billion and $2.1 billion.

Sequestration snarling 2014 budget process
The annual appropriations process is a complex and arduous Washington practice. But what’s snarled the process even more than usual this year is sequestration. The billions in automatic, across-the-board budget cuts have already taken a chunk out of 2013 spending and are poised to continue to do so again when the calendar rolls over to fiscal 2014 in just a few months.

Obama to refresh management agenda
In a meeting with his mostly-new Cabinet today, the president will detail how he wants agencies to build on the first-term progress in improving federal services, making the government more efficient and opening up federal data to the public. A White House official told Federal News Radio that Obama will ask new Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Matthews Burrell to lead this reinvigorated effort to help agencies find more innovative ways to deliver better results.