Pay, pension and TSP ‘take-aways’ you didn’t order

In England and in some parts of this country, a “take away” is when you order a popular fast food: a pizza, some burgers or, in Vermont, the popular organic Kale salad. To go…to take away.

In Washington “take away” has a slightly different meaning. It is the legislative-political equivalent of bend-over-and-smile-this-is-going-to-hurt-you-more-than-me. It’s Capitol Hill slang for downsizing or eliminating people, programs and/or all of the above — like the Internal Revenue Service.

The reasons for cutting or eliminating a program are almost always the same. Either it is no longer needed and is, therefore, a waste of money or needs to be revised and reaimed toward a new target. But more often than not, there are political motives behind the proposed cuts in one place, which could lead to an expansion or need for services some place else.

The House Budget Committee plan to downsize the IRS is honest in that it makes known part of its motives. The belief—right or wrong—by many Republicans that the IRS acted improperly by targeting conservative political groups for bad treatment and that it is now running some kind of cover-up over Lois Lerner’s missing e-mails.

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There’s more. Lots more. Several proposed “take aways” would impact your pay, your retirement, your health plan and the popular Treasury securities G-fund of your Thrift Savings Plan. Veteran lobbyist Jessica Klement says she’s “never seen anything like it. Never seen so many threats at one time.” She’s legislative director for NARFE and before that the Federal Managers Association. She also worked as a House staffer so she’s been-there-done-that.

Pay/Job Security: One item on the take-away proposal would save millions (as in cost you as an employee-retiree) by gradually reducing the government paid share of your health premiums. It would also require agencies to slim down via attrition. That would mean more work and fewer promotion options for young and mid-career employees.

Devalued G-fund: There is also a proposal to change the way interest is computed and set on the TSP’s most popular fund, the super-safe Treasury securities G-fund. Earlier this week on his In Depth radio show, Francis Rose interviewed Kim Weaver. She’s director of external affairs for the board that oversees the TSP. She said the proposed change would make the G-fund almost worthless as an investment option. To hear the full interview, click here.

Pay/Pensions: The budget plan calls for all feds to contribute significantly more to their federal retirement program. That would cut into take-home pay which hasn’t been going up very rapidly—or often—these days.

Budget plans are just that. Plans. Shopping wish lists. They are rarely if ever passed intact. But this one has strong backing. So be advised, it is out there. For even more details on the plan, click here for the latest from Federal News Radio, and here for information from the Federal Managers Association.


Nearly Useless Factoid by Julia Ziegler
More than 250 paintings adorn the walls of the U.S. Capitol. (Source: House of Representatives)


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