Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Washington Post Features

December 11, 2013

Federal budget deal would have new hires pay more into pensions

WASHINGTON — Federal employees hired after Jan. 1 will make higher contributions toward their retirement benefits than current workers under a budget deal announced Tuesday night.

Under the agreement reached by the Budget Conference Committee, the new workers would pay an additional 1.3 percent of salary toward retirement, saving the government $6 billion over 10 years.

While federal employee unions strongly pushed against any additional payments from the workforce, the agreement is a much better deal for them than what Republicans and even President Barack Obama had proposed.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Budget Committee, wanted federal employees to pay an additional 5.5 percent toward retirement, or $130 billion over 10 years. Obama's proposal was for a 1.2 percent increase for all federal employees, yielding $20 billion from workers.

"This has been a brawl over the last 48 hours," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., a member of the conference committee whose district is heavy with federal workers. "This agreement will not require additional contributions by any current federal employees."

The agreement would create a three-tier system for employee contributions to their civil service pensions. Those hired before this year pay 0.8 percent of their salary, those hired in 2013 pay 3.1 percent and those hired after Jan. 1 would pay 4.4 percent under the budget agreement.

Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said she was "disappointed that the budget deal announced today proposes increases to federal employee retirement contributions for new hires; however, I am glad to see the numbers were significantly reduced from original proposals and that these retirement increases will not impact current employees.

"Considering the $114 billion current federal workers have already contributed to deficit reduction, it was the right decision not to ask them to sacrifice again," she said.

Van Hollen said Obama called from Air Force One, while traveling to South Africa for Nelson Mandela's funeral, to assure the congressman that the administration would not advance additional pension contributions from federal employees in its next budget proposal.

The budget agreement also would lower the compensation level the government pays to some outside contractors.

The compensation level, determined by a statutory formula, is now set at $952,308. The agreement, according to Van Hollen's office, would bring it down to $487,000.

Van Hollen said non-defense agencies would have $22.5 billion more in fiscal year 2014 than 2013, while the Pentagon will get $2 billion more.

"This should avoid furloughs in the coming year," he said.

The agreement has some good and some bad, he added, but on balance "it's a good step forward for the country."

Joseph Beaudoin, president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, said: "This deal continues with the dangerous precedent set by Congress last year in taking from future federal employees to pay for bad policies and deficit reduction now. . . . This drain on our nation's federal workforce must end. The federal government may never be the employer with the greatest pay and benefits, but it certainly shouldn't be the employer of last resort either, and that's where we are headed."

1
Text Only
Washington Post Features
  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 17, 2014

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 17, 2014

  • Search teams will send unmanned sub to look for missing Malaysian airliner

    Teams searching for a missing Malaysian airliner are planning for the first time to send an unmanned submarine into the depths of the Indian Ocean to look for wreckage, an Australian official leading the multi-nation search said Monday.

    April 15, 2014

  • DayCareCosts.jpg Day care's cost can exceed college tuition in some states

    Most parents will deal with an even larger kid-related expense long before college, and it's a cost that very few of them are as prepared for: day care.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 10 tips for surviving a severe allergy season

    My colleague Brady Dennis reported recently that the arrival of warmer weather will soon unleash a pollen tsunami in parts of the country where the winter has been especially long and cold. Here are some survival tips from Clifford W. Bassett, an allergy specialist and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.

    April 9, 2014

  • news_twitter.jpg Travelers fly on Air Twitter

    The enlightened age of social media has dawned over the airline industry, casting shadows over telephone call centers and on-site agents. Facebook and Twitter are racking up the friends and followers while the hold music plays on.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • To get quality care, it helps to be the right kind of patient

    I am a family physician. Sometimes I must step out of the comfort of my clinical role and into that of patient or family caregiver. Generally, these trips to the other side of the exam table inspire a fair amount of anxiety.

    April 8, 2014

  • Fast, cheap test can help save lives of many babies

    As Easley did more research into her daughter's death, she learned that a pilot program had started just months earlier at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md. (Easley had delivered at a different hospital in the Washington area.) The program's goal was to screen every newborn with a simple pulse oximeter test that can help detect heart problems such as Veronica's, allowing doctors to respond.

    April 8, 2014

  • At many leading schools, football fails to make cut

    To my astonishment, 67 of the top 100 schools, ranked by participation in college-level tests, said they do not field a team, denoting a shift in American high school culture, at least in those schools that challenge their students most.

    April 7, 2014

  • pizza-300x216.jpg VIDEO: Pepperoni, extra cheese and...pot?

    A Vancouver pizzeria has added a unique item to its menu: Customers with a prescription can order pizza infused with marijuana.

    April 1, 2014 1 Photo