Bad news may be good news for feds, retirees

The good news for federal employees and retirees is that Congress has limited time this year to focus on issues that may impact their pay and benefits.

Whether its Stormy Daniels, North Korea, climate change, Russia, the latest on the Kardashians, Facebook’s latest “ooops,” or the upcoming midterm election, the nation’s got a lot on its plate right now. More, it seems, than most times. Most bad or potentially bad news at least at first glance. And yet…

The good news — and it may be very good news for federal workers and retirees — is that Congress has a plan to deal with the country’s various problems. The plan is:

It will take roughly 140 days off this year (not counting weekends). This is necessary, we’re told, so that incumbents can campaign for reelection. So that they — or party members who replace them —can come to a place (the undrained swamp) they profess to hate. The good news for members of the federal-postal-retiree family is that it is unlikely that any of the by-now-too-familiar “reforms” Congress and the White House want to make in government are likely to happen this year.

Lobbyists representing federal and postal workers, retirees, managers and executives used to work to get good stuff enacted into law for their people. But for more than a decade they’ve been fighting a rear guard action each year just to maintain the status quo. When nothing happens that is good news for the feds.

President Donald Trump has proposed a zero percent federal pay raise in 2018. Although Congress could overturn it, that is a long shot. The White House and Congress will again call for changes — as in cuts — in retirement benefits for FERS employees and retirees. And higher retirement plan contributions (which would cut into your take-home pay) for FERS workers. And zero COLAs in future years for FERS retirees, with slightly reduced (0.5 percent) inflation-adjustments for those under the old CSRS program. If that happened and inflation picks up the pace, it could dramatically reduce retiree income in just a few years.

This time last year many insiders said it wasn’t a matter of is anything bad going to happen, but rather which items on the hit list would make it into law. But by the end of 2017 Congress had run out of time to do anything that would whack feds. Meantime, its brace for the worst but hope for the best. Which in this case is: nothing.

Politics: The American Federation of Government Employees has endorsed Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a San Antonio Democrat who is running against incumbent Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican. AFGE says there are nearly 200,000 feds in Texas making them the potential tie-breakers in a close vote this November. The union’s 10th district which includes Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Panama has nearly 45,000 dues-paying members.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Michael O’Connell

Traveling at 60 miles per hour, it would take someone just under 6 months to drive a car to the moon.

Source: Science Focus

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