Because of the federal budget squeeze, a government worker in Puerto Rico who clams she was unjustly fired, then rehired, then fired again, will have to get herself and backup witnesses to New York City -- at her expense -- if whe wants a crack at getting her job back

The woman was canned months ago. She charged the firing was improper and illegal. She got her job back, then was promptly fired on different grounds.

She appealed her case to the Merit Systems Protection Board. The board is supposed to protect civil servants from dismissals that are illegal or politically motivated.

Normally the board would send a hearing officer from its nearest field installation to hear the case. This being the government, Puerto Rico is part of the New York field office.

But the MSPB is one of those agencies hit by a 16 percent budget cut--12 percent from the president, plus another 4 percent chop from Congress--so it is trying to cut expenses while appealing its cuts.

One of the economies the board has made is to halt all travel--which saves it about $30,000 a month.

Meantime, the woman in Puerto Rico, and hundreds like her in the field, must travel to the MSPB office in their district, or wait until the travel freeze is lifted--if it is lifted.

The woman says she could get to New York if she were working, but since she isn't she can't.

The government says it can't consider rehiring her unless she comes to New York. She says she can't because . . . . The government says it can't, because . . . !

If you understand any of this, you should consider a career in politics.