Item: There are 10,781,000 milk cows in this country.
Item: There are 2,886,625 federal civil servants in this country.
I mention those numbers because a lot of feds think they are being milked -- for political reasons -- by Carter and Congress while the cows and their supporters are treated like, well, sacred cows -- for political reasons.
What makes the suspicious feds so suspicious are things like this:
Congress and the White House are frantically looking for ways to shave the budget in this election year. One way is to modify programs that are indexed to inflation.
Federal-military pensions are indexed to inflation. So are price supports for milk. Both get increases every six months to help annuitants (and milk brokers) keep pace with inflation.
The White House (correctly) decided it would be cheaper to limit both groups -- federal workers and cows -- to a single inflation adjustment each year. Social Security gets only one raise a year, and most private pensioners, if they are lucky enough to get one raise a year, get only 80 percent of the inflation rise.
Congress loved the cost-of-living cutback idea for federal and military retirees. But it balked at economizing on the cows.
The White House was all set to propose the once-a-year inflation adjustment for milk producers when Carter aides (and frantic members of Congress) said to forget it. After all, the Wisconsin primary was coming up (it was last week) and Carter needs all the help he can get in the Midwest, which has more cows than federal workers.
To make a long story short, the White House decided against recommending any change in the twice-yearly adjustments for milk supports. The dairy industry has lots of clout. It contributes lots of money to campaigns.
Meantime, Congress and the White House are pushing to eliminate one of the two cost-of-living raises federal-military retirees get each year. Both the Senate and the House Budget committees have approved resolutions that would force government to shift to the one-raise-a-year plan.
Federal workers, military personnel and retirees aren't jumping with joy about losing one of their regular inflation adjustments each year. But if it would genuinely help fight inflation many callers have said they would go along. If Congress wants to put them on the same inflation adjustment cycle as Social Security, the feds say, do it. But if the White House is in the mood to make everybody equal in this war on inflation, it shouldn't draft bureaucrats and exempt cows.