Just before leaving town, Congress zapped federal workers, and civilian and military retirees -- all in the name of economy.
Gramm-Rudman-Hollings' deficit reductions froze the 3.1 percent raise government retirees were expecting in January.
In addition, the House approved a tax reform bill that would eliminate the current tax-free period for new retirees who have contributed to their pension programs. If the Senate goes along with the change, it would mean an average tax bite of $10,000 in the first three years of retirement for federal workers who will retire after July 1.
Federal and postal workers and retirees are understandably upset by the COLA freeze as well as by the pension tax plan. This is what some readers are saying:
*I have a comment for Congress, for young people considering public service and for federal retirees like myself:
"My advice to young people is not to go into the civil service or the military; they will be punished. That is the message coming out of Capitol Hill.
"My advice to retirees is to withdraw from whatever political party they belong to after the election and register as independents. Both political parties have betrayed us. If millions of federal-military retirees switch to 'independent' registration it will send the politicians a message." -- D.K., Silver Spring
*"Well, they have done it to us old folks again. For the president and Congress, the federal retiree COLA is the greatest plaything since the yo-yo.
"Every time a spending cut is even mentioned the COLA is pulled, pushed and bucked into some corner where a new string is attached. Despite billions of dollars funneled into all kinds of losing ventures here and abroad, the first thing to do in every crisis is cut the COLA and wean retirees away from security.
"It's a great step toward saving the country.
As John Wayne used to say, 'Like hell it is.' " -- R.W., Falls Church
*" . . . List the names of the members of the tax-writing committee, especially the Democratic majority." -- An Interested Federal Employe
*"For years, primarily at the insistence of civil service unions, government employes have looked to the Democrats in Congress to save them from pay freezes, COLA freezes, changes in the retirement system, etc.
"In every case, however, the Democrats have either let us down or actually proposed the most harmful actions, i.e., the new Democratic tax reform plan that would require persons retiring after July 1 to begin paying federal taxes on a portion of their annuities. It seems to me that we federal employes and retirees have applied a false coat of Teflon to the Democrats and let them get away with murder while blaming the Republicans for everything that comes our way.
"I say we public employes should wise up and not let any political party take us for granted anymore." -- G.E., Reston