Are we having fun yet?

A friend from Utah, on a trip to Cody, Wyo., with her toddler, 5-year-old sons and her parents, acted on a suggestion to take an easy raft trip on the Shoshone.

The early spring thaw, however, had this usually calm stretch of river raging. She and the older son, placed in front with ropes to pull up the bow and keep the inflatable raft from swamping, got hit full on and drenched by the icy water.

After the wild, wet ride, the river guide asked the 5-year-old if he had fun. “Too much fun,” he said. “I hated it.” So it is, sort of, with the compromise budget deal. Liberals don’t like it because it cuts some spending. Conservatives don’t like it because it doesn’t cut enough. But it does fend off the likelihood of furloughs, layoffs and another government shutdown for two years. (Unless of course the debt ceiling issue revives that possibility).

In yesterday’s column, I said that the reaction to the tentative budget agreement (the Senate still must vote) is something like a job-related Rorschach Test (you know, the ink blots) for federal workers and retirees. That prompted a number of comments, including:

  • “I am a very positive and upbeat person except when it comes to the direction our country is headed economically. All the things you mention that were negotiated in this budget deal are very minor in the scheme of things. Our country will borrow approximately $4 billion today, same as it did yesterday and will continue to do for the foreseeable future. We have accumulated over $17 trillion of debt that nobody expects can be repaid. That debt is increasing by about $1 trillion a year. If current spending levels were frozen at FY 2013 levels the government would spend over $37 trillion over the next decade. In reality, it will more likely spend over $50 trillion over the next decade which makes these cuts nothing more than a drop in the ocean. Our country is in a precarious position. Despite taxing its citizens at unprecedented levels, it still has a 35 percent spending deficit. I don’t know how this story ends but it can’t be good. That’s not pessimism, that’s reality.” — Department of Justice Guy
  • “I am glad they finally came up with something that is longer term, not jerking from one Continuing Resolution to another every six months. This gives me time to fix the roof and worry less about a government shutdown.” — Emily in Washington State.
  • “It is wonderful that the Democrats and Republicans could finally agree on something without wrecking the room. The sad part is that while it leaves federal workers alone, for a change, it does so little to solve any of the core problems. Entitlements like Social Security and Medicare continue to be the third high-voltage rail of American politics: Touch it and you die!

    “Gerrymandering to create safe Democratic or safe Republican districts guarantees that the House will … become more stubborn and out-of-touch with reality than it already is. If this budget deal is a victory, I dread what defeat will look like.” — Al in South Carolina


Compiled by Jack Moore

“Baby wipes” is an actual Jelly Belly flavor. Be careful, they look exactly like the Coconut-flavored ones.

(Source: Mental Floss)


TSP seeks to supplant G Fund in automatic enrollments
Federal employees could soon be seeing a lot less of the G Fund in their Thrift Savings plan accounts. Instead of being automatically enrolled solely in government securities, new plan participants would be shifted to an age- appropriate Lifecycle, or L, Fund as their default investing option under a proposal approved by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board Monday. The proposal ultimately requires action by Congress.

How much money will your agency receive under the 2014 budget deal?
The bipartisan budget deal announced last week goes a long way toward clearing up the widespread budget uncertainty that has plagued federal agencies for the last two years. But it doesn’t actually set individual agency funding for next year. That’s the job of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, the leaders of whom now must write an official spending bill that spells out exactly how much each agency will be given next year and on what.