According to the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, the proverbial phrase may have first been uttered by King James I of England, who, in 1616, is believed to have said, “No news is better than evil news.” It figures that he was in government
For 21st century American civil servants, the no-new-is-good-news outlook on life is for real. Feds often tend to do better, or at least things don’t get any worse, when politicians, from the President down to the humblest (???) member of Congress forget about them. Like this year. So far.
Congress is on break until well after Labor Day. The Republicans, then the Democrats, will do their thing in Cleveland and Philadelphia . The fact that Congress did nothing about the January 2017 federal pay raise is a plus. It is now likely that white-collar workers at State, Justice, Interior, IRS, Defense and most other agencies will get a basic 1.6 percent pay raise in January.
Members of the American Postal Workers Union will also be getting a series of pay raises and cost-of-living adjustments based on an arbitrator’s decision. Unlike their white-collar counterparts in other federal agencies, the vast majority of postal craft workers belong to, and pay dues to, unions representing clerks, letter carriers, mail handlers and other craft employees.
Federal and postal retirees may or may not get a cost-of-living adjustment in January 2017. Any increase will depend on the rise in inflation from the third-quarter of this year (July, August and September) over the third-quarter of 2014. After a period of flat price increases or actual deflation, living costs in May and June jumped (or at least limped slightly up) by 0.46 percent.
The bad news for active and retired feds is that Congress left town without taking action to “reform” the so-called Windfall Elimination Provision (or WEP) that reduces the Social Security benefits of many federal retirees. It is possible, but highly unlikely, Congress will make any change, good or bad, this year. Here’s an explanation of WEP from the National Active and Retired Federal Employees. about the impact, and importance, of WEP.
When Congress returns, it will likely approve a stopgap CR (continuing resolution) to fund federal operations in the new fiscal year (Oct. 1). Also depending on how messy the political campaigns get, there could be an effort by some politicians to shut down the government (again). Or not.
So given the circumstances, options and wild political-social times, no news often really is good news.