Every time political budget cutters go on the warpath, federal workers and retirees get the uncomfortable feeling that they are wearing the biggest targets.
Some of the big-ticket items in the most recent round of deficit-cutting talks centered on the January raises due civil servants and retirees. These are multibillion-dollar items that were placed on the table by congressional and White House economizers.
Most of the savings talk that appeared in the media came from politicians and representatives of the stock market -- mainly the hunters. Today's Monday Morning Quarterback brings you the views of some of the hunted:"Now is the time to consider the early retirement bill by Sen. William V. Roth Jr. (R-Del.). There are no easy answers to the budget deficit question, but in-place options, such as the early retirement plan, should be considered first. Roth's bill is a practical and humanitarian solution in the right direction . . . .
"The potential arbitrary cutting of programs because of the deficit reduction act or the use of inequitable layoffs will strike at the laudable missions of agencies and demoralize and decimate staff who have the greatest to lose from dismissal, respectively. Yet there are employees who if given the option to retire would gladly elect the opportunity to take a reduced annuity.
"Negotiations between the various parties interested in or opposed to the early-out should be attempted.
"After the stock market's 'Black Monday' it is no longer business as usual. All parties having a stake in this issue should be imaginative in finding a common ground for a limited early-out . . . . Please, be creative."
G.R.M., Silver Spring
"There was a recent front-page article in the Federal Times saying that Congress is considering attacking federal paychecks again by rounding down to the nearest dollar in order to help cut the federal deficit. I didn't create the deficit! It has been building a lot longer than I've been a civil servant.
"Why not round down to the nearest dollar the paychecks of any private contractor doing government work? A lot of their ridiculously priced items and services have contributed to the deficit. It seems only fair that they should help decrease what they helped increase.
"I did some computing on the rounding down using 50 cents as an average. That is $13 for 26 pay periods. Each day I drive to a Metro station paying $1.50 to park and $2.20 round trip for the train. That comes to $18.50 a week. I won't bother to figure gas, oil, etc. You can see I won't be able to 'afford' to commute to work one week each year, but I don't think my boss will go for it."
"Please relay the following message to our congressmen and senators regarding the president's proposed 2 percent pay raise for federal workers: We, and thousands of other government employees, will not be voting for them if they support this degrading and insulting treatment of a large segment of their constituents."
41 National Library of Medicine Employees
"Backers of the plan to protect the 4.2 percent January cost-of-living adjustment for federal retirees from congressional budget-cutters should point out that without the COLA the vast majority of retirees will get smaller annuity checks next year. That's because of the increase in health insurance premiums, some of which are going up as much as 50 percent. That is a point worth stressing to Congress."