House GOP budget calls for increase in feds’ retirement contributions

House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) released his $3.8 trillion budget plan Tuesday, including language calling for an increase in how much federal employees pay into their retirement plans.

The plan also seeks to increase funding to the Department of Defense, while promising to balance the federal budget through cuts elsewhere.

“In keeping with a recommendation from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, this budget calls for Federal employees — including Members of Congress and congressional staff — to make greater contributions toward their own retirement,” the legislation text said.

The Bipartisan Budget Control Act of 2013 introduced new contribution levels. Anyone hired before 2013 contributes 0.8 percent to the Federal Employees Retirement System. Federal employees hired in 2013 contribute 3.1 percent to their defined benefit pension. Employees hired in 2014 are required to contribute 4.4 percent. Under the Price’s proposed budget, all federal employees would pay 6.6 percent.

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“Rep. Price’s budget ignores the $159 billion in cuts that have already been made to federal employees’ pay and benefits and demands more cuts to this small segment of the American workforce,” said J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, in a release.

The language in Price’s bill is similar to that contained in the 2015 budget proposal introduced by House Republicans in April 2014.

“Federal employees aren’t some faceless bureaucrats to be cut at a whim,” Cox said. “They are real people with real jobs who make a real difference in the lives of millions Americans every day, whether it’s ensuring senior citizens get the Social Security benefits they’re owed, caring for veterans who return from war with physical or psychological scars, or keeping knives and other weapons off airplanes. They deserve our respect and admiration, not the contempt and derision being presented in this budget.”

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) recently introduced legislation to roll back the recent increases to feds’ retirement contributions. She introduced similar legislation in July 2014.

The plan is sparse on details about other specific areas of interest for federal employees, such as the 1.3 percent pay raise offered in President Barack Obama’s budget or the 3.8 percent pay raise proposed by congressional Democrats.

Keeping total Defense spending under sequestration caps

Regarding funding the DoD, the GOP House budget plan takes a different course than President Obama, whose budget proposed increases to Defense spending above the sequestration caps.

“We adhere to the current law funding cap in Fiscal Year 2016 while increasing funding in the years to follow — spending at levels above the president’s suggested defense budget in the outyears beyond FY 2016, including $22 billion above the President’s Five Year Defense Plan and $151 billion above the ten-year totals,” the GOP plan summary said. “This would also be $387 billion above the ten year total under the current path.”

The House GOP plan increases DoD’s Overseas Contingency Operations fund in FY2016 by $36 billion.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the House Democratic whip, issued a response to the Price’s budget plan, which Hoyer characterized as an “unrealistic, unworkable budget resolution.”

Hoyer questioned the plan’s approach to Defense spending.

“Your budget resolution pretends to abide by sequester-level spending caps this year, yet it allocates $36 billion more in Overseas Contingency Operations war funding than was requested by the Pentagon. Isn’t this a way of trying to hide the tensions between your party’s dueling factions — the defense hawks and the budget hawks — by pretending you’re sticking to spending caps, when you’re not?”

The House GOP plan balances the increases in DoD spending with cuts to non- Defense programs, as well as targeting wasteful spending. The primary target is the Affordable Care Act, which the plan proposes be repealed in full.

“Our budget presents a plan to save, strengthen, and secure Medicare for today’s seniors and tomorrow’s retirees,” the plan summary said. “First and foremost, we put an end to the Obamacare raid of the Medicare Trust Fund. We provide future seniors with a premium support model that will enable beneficiaries to choose from a range of coverage options, including traditional fee-for-service Medicare. As before, our plan makes no changes to those in or near retirement.”

The plan gives the power to tailor Medicaid programs to state governments. It also repeals the Medicaid expansion

The GOP budget plan also seeks to find savings in eliminating government waste.

“Eliminating waste in government may seem like a generalization, but it is no less an important pursuit,” the plan said. “All of Washington ought to face scrutiny — every department, agency and program. And once tax dollars are sent out the door, there ought to be in place a system to better track the efficiency and effectiveness of the initiatives being funded. More accountability from departments and agencies means a government that’s more respectful and responsive to the needs of its people.”

The House GOP budget plan targets what it calls “programs that are duplicative or waste taxpayer dollars on activities that are not core functions of the federal government.” As an example, it listed 92 different anti-poverty, 17 food aid and 22 housing assistance programs that do much of the same work.

It referenced a November 2014 inspector general report revealing that employees at the Environmental Protection Agency were on paid administrative leave while they were under violation investigations as an example of wasteful government spending.

In addition, it pointed to the CIA and the Pentagon spending parts of their budget on studying climate change as another example of wasteful government spending.

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