A new and very different Congress, a halting economic recovery and an apparently growing anti-bureaucrat mood in the country have given professional tea-leaf readers (especially those who specialize in nightmare forecasts) a new lease on life.
The usual suspects – changes in the retirement formula, higher pension costs, furloughs and shutdowns – are rounded up each January only to fade away by mid-year. But this time veteran Washington-watchers say it could be different.
Starting with the bipartisan 2-year federal pay raise, politicians of both parties are looking at the plight of states (like New York and California) and un-funded or under-funded retirement liabilities.
There is serious talk about deliberalizing federal retirement benefits, increasing employee contributions, downsizing and buyouts. The Pentagon wants a first-in-a-long-time increase in Tricare premiums for military personnel to encourage them to buy outside insurance.
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Judging from e-mails we get, lots of feds recognize that there are problems and that they’d like to help. But they don’t appreciate being considered “the” problem.” On a personal level, some say they will take early retirement to escape changes in retirement rules. Others say the same changes, including an extended pay freeze, mean they will hang on and die at their desks.
So what are your colleagues’ reactions to the – maybe – changes under consideration? If you believe in the wisdom-of-the-crowd theory, check these out:
With kids leaving the nest I’ve been increased my contribution from 5 to 10% 2 years ago and now will be increasing that to 15% or to the $16,500 max this year. So it would be beneficial to finish out the next 3 years and let that grow! I am not trying to live an extravagant lifestyle, I just want to be able to live comfortably enjoy my retirement not be a burden to the government or my children as I age. If after my wife and I are gone and there is something left the kids can have it. I must say I’ve been a loyal reader for the last layers and will continue to do so especially in this unpredictable time. AJK
“I know of at least three highly trained individuals who will be retiring this year. Another one is leaving in early 2012 after they have gained one full year at a higher grade to boost their retirement pension. They are the fortunate ones. If they raise the high-three to the high-five, there will be plenty more who will be out the door. That and other changes will not encourage young educated workers to make a career with the government. ” Sign me “Disappointed”.
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Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota
According to Wikipedia, so consider the source: “in Japan, up to 1,500 raccoons were imported as pets each year after the success of the anime series Rascal the Raccoon (1977).” Before you start thinking about retiring and buying a coon farm, you should know that since most of the raccoons bought in Japan have either escaped or were dumped, notes Cracked.com, Japan has now made it illegal to import or keep them as pets.
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