The White House is pushing Congress for speedy preelection action on three legislative bonuses aimed at Uncle Sam's five million active and retired civil servants and their families. All three measures -- dealing with more life insurance, tax help for retirees and job benefits for the handicapped -- have cleared the House.
To expedite the bills, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee plans hearings tomorrow and hopes to get them cleared for full Senate approval in short order. they are:
A bill that would double in most cases the amount of life insurance the typical federal worker gets. Uncle Sam picks up part of the premium. Unless they buy an optional package and pay all the premium, most federal workers are now limited to policies equal to their annual salary, plus $2,000. (That means the typical $20,000 per year worker gets a policy with a face value of $22,000).
People who run the federal insurance program are anxious to attract more young---under 35---people into it. Under the current program limits and rates most of them can get insurance cheaper, and with expanded coverage, outside government. Doubling the amounts they can get, without physical exams, is designed to lure more young premium payers into the program, as well as expand benefits for older workers. The bill would also limit the decline in the face value of insurance that now occurs when workers retire. Carter would like to have this benefit bill on his desk, and sign it before the election.
Bill number two would require the government to withhold state income taxes from the monthly annuity checks of retirees who request it. They now have to estimate their taxes, and make regualr payments on their own.
People who run payroll and accounting offices that would administer the witholding aren't crazy about the idea. They see it as creating a vast new workload, and perhaps slowing other retirement payments. But the White House is anxious to have this one delivered into law before the elections, hoping it will make retirees forget the abortive effort to eliminate one of their two annual cost of living raises.
Bill number three would authorize and require the government, in certain circumstances, to hire and pay personal aides to assistant handicapped workers on the job.
A number of people oppose the concept of that bill, but will not tackle it on the record.