Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan says he supports the system that gives federal, postal and military retirees inflation catchup raises every six months. The former California governor also says he would oppose any move that would force federal employes, who have their own retirement system, to be included in the Social Security program.
Reagan made his promise to protect twice-yearly COL (cost-of-living) raises, now under attack in Congress to the National Association of Retired Federal Employees.. This is one of many federal-post-military groups that is fighting to keep the COL adjustment system intact. Both President Carter and independent candidate John Anderson favor the idea of a single annual COL adjustment for U.S. retirees.
In a written statement to NARFE, which has more than 300,000 members, Reagan said the Consumer Price Index under Carter has risen 43 percent, and that "under these circumstances the benefits of all retired persons are threatened unless inflation adjustments are made in a timely fashion."
"The present civil service retirement law properly provideds for a COL adjustment to protect retirees from the destruction of the value of their benefit payments. . ." the statement said. "I do not favor abandoning the present semi-annual indexing."
White House and congressional attempts to limit U.S. retirees to the same single annual COL adjustment received by Social Security recipients has become a major political issue. Senate-House conferees -- in recess until after the election -- are considering a proposal that would eliminate the scheduled March 1981 raise. Federal retirees got a 7.7 percent inflation catch-up this month.
Meanwhile, the Carter Administration is making a new bid for the 8 million votes represented by U.S. workers, military personnel and retirees. 8Leaders of the Carter-Mondale reelection committee are due to meet at their campaign headquarters here today with postal and federal union leaders. Most of them are philosophically opposed to Reagan, and they will be trying to squeeze promises of better treatment for their members in an effort to keep the bureaucratic voter bloc from bolting to Reagan.
Many federal and postal union leaders are ticked off with the Carter Administration but they cannot bring themselves to support Reagan. Several union conventions this summer specifically instructed their national officers not to make any political endorsements.
But with the election just a few weeks away, both Republicans and Democrats are wooing U.S. workers and retirees, who have the best voter turnout of any age group. Purpose of the meeting today between the Afl-CIO leaders and the Carter-Mondale people is to see what kind of carrots the White House may be willing to offer to get back in the unions' good graces.
One major independent union leader, Vincent Connery, says he will vote for President Carter this year despite an early and strong endorsement of Sen. Edward Kennedy for the Democratic nomination. Connery's National Treasury Employees Union has bargaining rights for workers in the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Energy headquarters, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Federal Election Commission, Federal Communications Commission and other agencies.
White House officials (and some union members) were furious when NTEU came out for Kennedy, and said unflattering things about Jimmy Carter. Connery said yesterday he still feels Kennedy was the best man for the job, but times change. He said voting for Anderson would be "throwing away votes" and says he will vote for Carter and hopes NTEU people do the same.