President Carter's anti-inflation program could require federal workers, and all federal, postal and military retirees to bite the economic bullet. Hard. His recommendations that go to Congress soon are expected to:
Slap some kind of freeze on federal hiring. Carter can do this on his own. Agencies have stepped up hiring in anticipation of a freeze.
Ask quick approval of his federal pay "reforms," which Carter says would save $3 billion this year. The proposal would set up a new government vs. industry pay comparison system, and trim the anticipated 10 percent October federal raise to 6.2 percent.
Ask Congress to put federal-military retirees under a system that would give them one COL (cost of living) raise a year. Government retirees now get COL adjustments every six months. People under Social Security get one raise a year.
Insiders expect the president's economic control package will include a strong pitch for his federal pay reform proposal. Backers of the plan say reform would more accurately reflect pay differences between federal and private jobs. One aspect of reform would require the government to compare its total benefits package -- pay, leave, retirement, etc. -- with industry in coming up with proposed October federal salary adjustments. Under this system, the White House estimates that federal workers would get a 6.2 percent raise in October, rather than the 10 plus percent due them under the current system, which is a straight salary matchup.
The president also is studying a proposal to eliminate one of the two annual COL raises federal military retirees get. Those boosts come due in March and September.
Under the existing federal COL system, retirees got a 6.9 percent raise last September, and a 6 percent boost this month to help them keep current with inflation. Persons under Social Security get a single adjustment -- each July 1. The plan Carter is considering would give federal-military retirees a single COL adjustment each year, in July.
President advisers on civil service matters have been conferring with congressional leaders for two weeks on the proposed changes.Carter will decide which options he wants to present to Congress within the next couple of days.