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Federal Eye
Posted at 02:38 PM ET, 09/29/2011

Federal worker groups have much to say on Obama’s deficit reduction plan

A coalition of federal employee organizations, representing 4.6 million federal and postal workers and retirees, is urging Congress to carefully pick and choose from among items in President Obama’s deficit reduction plan.

In a letter to members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, the 21 members of the Federal-Postal Coalition said: “We are particularly concerned with proposals that would have an inequitable impact on federal employees and ask you to reject these initiatives. ...

“We appreciate the Administration’s call for ‘some sacrifice from all of us,’ ” the letter continues. “However, federal employees are being disproportionately targeted in the continuing waves of deficit reduction proposals. Not only are federal employees facing layoffs and downsizing due to shrinking agency budgets, they are already subject to compensation cuts.” A two-year pay freeze was imposed on federal workers in January.

The letter urged the committee to reject proposals to:

— Increase federal employee contributions to the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund by 1.2 percent “with no corresponding increase in benefits.”

— Eliminate the Federal Employees Retirement System annuity supplement for new hires. “Since early retirees do not receive Social Security benefits until age 62, the annuity supplement provides income critical to their retirement security.”

— Stop Saturday mail delivery. Halting Saturday delivery “would save little money while disproportionately hurting rural communities, the elderly and small businesses,” while allowing competitors an opening to provide that service. 

The coalition does like some parts of the president’s plan, including proposals to:

— Cap salaries of private contractors at approximately $200,000, a reduction from the current cap of almost $700,000.

— Streamline the pharmacy benefit program under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program for a savings of $1.6 billion.

— Provide additional funding for new IRS tax enforcement efforts.

The coalition also said it was pleased the administration did not call for across-the-board cuts in the workforce, as some congressional Republicans favor. “Arbitrary downsizing has historically led to wasteful privatization and the use of contractors to perform functions that are too important or sensitive to be outsourced at a much higher price,” the coalition said.

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By  |  02:38 PM ET, 09/29/2011

 
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