Brace for impact: The October, November, December and January surprise!

The term “October Surprise” — at least in political circles — usually involves juicy revelation involving a key or top elected official. Or somebody seeking political office. Or something (true or false) big that could tilt an election. This year, if it happens, there is speculation in some corners that it will involve a surprise about an incumbent U.S. Senator, some other candidate or candidates for high office, or even an announcement about a safe, effective coronavirus vaccine (one hinted at by the CEO of one of the nation’s largest drug companies) ready for distribution (best case scenario) as early as this month.

Federal workers have already had one of their regular surprises that is less surprising each year. This surprise, if you just joined federal service or just engaged your brain, is that there will NOT be a government shutdown this month as threatened. Congress again failed to do what many see as its primary job, appropriate funds for federal operations before the fiscal year began last Thursday. They’ve kicked the can down the road until early December when it starts all over again. The Senate last week cleared a stopgap spending bill hours before the deadline by a 84-10 vote. That means that federal workers — as has happened in the past — won’t be sent home and will continue to be paid. At least until December when a post-election Congress will deal with a stopgap bill to replace the current stopgap bill.

October, November and December will see an increase in take-home pay for most non-postal federal workers thanks to a temporary waiver of the 6.2% Social Security payroll tax. Most other employers were offered the option but declined, wisely many think, because feds will have to payback that 6.2% starting in January. This kind of January surprise is rare — unless Congress waives it. Those repayments could represent a big chunk of money for many workers.

Republicans and Democrats, who will be off campaigning shortly if not already, need to agree on a multitrillion dollar bill to help with the economic recovery. The middle ground is reported to be around $1.5 trillion and action (or more correctly inaction) on the stimulus plan comes at a time when airlines are laying off tens of thousands of people, along with amusement parks and countless restaurants.

The December surprise for feds is whether Congress clears, or again avoids, another CR that will keep the government open until January. While shutdowns before Christmas are few and far between, they have happened, forcing about half of all non-postal feds to stay home without pay, and the other half to report for duty, also without pay. In past shutdowns, workers have always gotten backpay, but sometimes it was weeks or months late

The situation could be complicated by the fact that so many feds might be working from home if a shutdown is ordered. That could mean an extensive vacation for some people. But a vacation during a lockdown when Uncle Sam isn’t making regular, on-time deposits to your bank account.

Whatever happens, or not, don’t act surprised. It just encourages them.

Predictions anyone?

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Alazar Moges

Source: Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

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THRIFT SAVINGS PLAN TICKER

Oct 20, 2020 Close Change YTD*
L Income 21.6569 0.0173 1.59%
L 2025 10.5150 0.0194 -
L 2030 36.0542 0.0821 1.76%
L 2035 10.6820 0.0265 -
L 2040 39.8749 0.1076 1.73%
L 2045 10.7962 0.0309 -
L 2050 23.3760 0.0712 1.64%
L 2055 11.0267 0.0427 -
L 2060 11.0268 0.0428 -
L 2065 11.0269 0.0428 -
G Fund 16.4815 0.0003 0.76%
F Fund 20.9953 -0.0434 6.75%
C Fund 51.0818 0.2405 5.50%
S Fund 61.8329 -0.053 3.45%
I Fund 31.0463 0.1542 -6.83%
Closing price updated at approx 6pm ET each business day. More at tsp.gov
* YTD data is updated on the last day of the month.