Federal workers have an important ace-in-the-hole should Congress decide to put them under the less generous social security system. It is this:
Integration of the two plans would force members of Congress to whittle back their own pension system. It is one of the world's fattest, best and most exclusive retirement plans. The idea is that everybody is for reform so long as it doesn't cost the reformers anything.
Being a member of Congress is a risky business to be sure. But it can be rewarding. To compensate for the risk of not reelected, Congress has set up its own pension program.It is modeled after the federal civil service retirement program in much the same way as Robert Redford is modeled after Buddy Hackett. Both have the same basic design and yet...
Upon retirement, the typical member of Congress gets nearly three times the pension-for about one half the service time-of the typicl civil service retiree. That is quite a benefit, political risks and long hours notwithstanding.
Recently the Tax Foundation Inc. did a study of the federal pension system. The private foundation is not a big fan of the civil service retirement system, so its data is certainly not weighted in favor of bureaucrats.
Its study (based on dollar figures from mid-1975) showed there were 287 retired members of Congress on the federal pension system. At that time their average gross annuity was $18,-900 based on 19 years of service. For that lifetime income, and twice-annual cost of living raises, the average member had contributed a total of $23,743, according to material from the Foundation and the Civil Service Commission.
Since then federal and congressional pay has gone up. Congress allowed itself a $12,900 raise one year, a figure that does wonders both in present income and when figuring an annuity. It is estimated that members retiring today easily get more than three times the annuity of a civil servant who has twice as much service.
If Carter Administration pushes - as expected - merger of the civil service and social security programs, Congress will have to act on it And Congress will be under tremendous pressure from the public - the non-federal public - to do it. But in doing so, Congress will have to defeather its own nest a lot, or be a little hypocritical and preserve its own better pension system, while cutting back retirement income of current federal workers.
Goldberg's Pension Merger Theory:
Jack Goldberg is vice president of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees. He's also a former top official with the Civil Service Commission. NARFE, like most federal unions and organizations, opposes mandatory social security coverage for federal workers. The groups say it is a ploy to pump money from the civil service fund into social security.
Goldberg says it reminds him of the man ho walks into a bank and announces he wants to open a joint account. "Of course," says the teller, "with whom do you want to open this joint account" "Anyone with a lot of money," is the answer.
Washington's Womanpower; More than 2,000 of the most powerful and important women here- including telephone numbers, jobs and titles-are listed in the new "Washington Woman" directory. The $8 volume lists local organizations of interest to women and groups and publications monitoring legislation concerning women in and out of government. It was prepared by the Federation of Organizations for Professional Women under a grant from the Ford Foundation.
The federation has been pushing for establishment of a powerful Old Girl Network (outlined here Oct. 5) to help women move up in government, and become more influential in policy-making. Those who made the directory will want a copy. Those who didn't may want itas a guide to plugging into the Old Girl Network so they can join the ranks of the VIPs. Price is $8 from the federation of 2000 P St. NW. (suite 403). Or call Louise Ott at 466-3547.
Is That Like Eyeball To Eyeball?
The State Department has sent a rather undiplomatic cable to overseas offices, urging bosses to urge employes to give to the Combined Federal Campaign. The fund drive is almost over, and brass in charge say Secretary Vance is "deeply concerned" because of the department's "low participation rate." To correct same, State urges managers to give the campaign "high priority."
Rep. William D. Ford (D-Mich.) has been elected to the important Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. It sets legislative priorities and helps establish the party line. Ford is a ranking member of the Post Office-Civil Service Committee overseeing federal employe matters, and a staunch labor man.