Federal retirees who lost a 3.1 percent cost-of-living adjustment this month because of congressional budget cutting would be guaranteed a raise next January under a bipartisan bill introduced yesterday by Rep. Mary Rose Oakar (D-Ohio).
Her bill would benefit nearly 2 million federal retirees, including 100,000 here. It is also sponsored by a dozen House members, including William Ford (D-Mich.), the liberal chairman of the Post Office-Civil Service Committee, and its conservative ranking Republican, Gene Taylor of Missouri.
Oakar's bill would not restore the 1986 cost-of-living adjustment. But, despite the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act, it would ensure a retiree raise in 1987 to reflect this year's rise in living costs. The federal-military retiree raise was the first of many cuts made in federal spending programs.
The budget deficit reduction act was passed by Congress Dec. 11, 10 days after the 3.1 percent raise legally went into effect for former civil servants and military personnel. When the president signed the law, the Office of Personnel Management was ordered to rerun computer tapes already programmed to print January pension checks to remove the 3.1 percent raise.
The new law requires across-the-board cuts in many federal programs in each of the next five years. Under the complex statute, those cuts are automatically imposed unless Congress and the White House can agree to offsetting budget cuts by March of each year.
Although the law froze pension benefits for federal-military retirees, it did allow a much more costly raise of 3.1 percent for persons under Social Security. Congress was afraid to freeze Social Security benefits in an election year because about a sixth of the nation receives them.
The 3.1 percent raise would have added an average of $30 a month to the gross payments made to typical federal retirees here, and an average of $15 a month to those of retirees' survivors.
Oakar's proposal, endorsed by the National Association of Retired Federal Employees (NARFE), is designed to ensure that federal retirement benefits, like those of Social Security, are excluded from future freezes imposed by Gramm-Rudman-Hollings.
Federal retirement benefits would have increased this month under the deficit reduction act originally approved by the Republican Senate. That bill would have waited until 1987 to freeze federal pension benefits. But during a Senate-House conference, House Democrats proposed moving the freeze up to this year, and that was approved.
In the meantime NARFE, which represents 500,000 federal retirees, has gone to court seeking restoration of the 3.1 percent raise for this year. The Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act provides for expedited appeals of certain budget cuts to a special three-judge panel and then to the Supreme Court.
NARFE contends that because the raise went into effect Dec. 1 and Gramm-Rudman-Hollings wasn't signed into law until Dec. 12, the canceled COLA amounts to taking of property without just compensation, a violation of the Fifth Amendment. People
Internal Revenue Service's Stan Goldberg is retiring after 35 years with Uncle Sam, including 25 with IRS. He's assistant commissioner for returns and information processing.