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The Heritage Foundation Takes Aim At Federal Workers

Federal Workers beware. Republicans and the Heritage Foundation are coming to steal your pay and slash your benefits.

heritage-foundation-logoThe Heritage Foundation, a well known right-wing think tank started by the Koch brothers, released a new report that directly targets federal workers in the ongoing race to the bottom.

The majority of the savings would come from eliminating any defined contribution plan or pension, as part of a workers retirement package and forcing workers into the government’s defined contribution plan, a 401K called the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).

From reporting by Government Executive online:

“New hires and workers with less than five years of experience should be shifted to a more generous defined contribution system exclusively — with a maximum government match of 8 percent of employees’ salaries into their Thrift Savings Plan accounts — while employees already retired, separated or with 25 years experience should be grandfathered into the current system, the think tank said.

Those with between five and 25 years of federal service would be given three different options enabling them to either keep the same basic structure while contributing more toward their pensions, or to freeze or stop their defined benefit in favor of a more generous TSP contribution.”

Their plan would steal a workers pension and in trade give them the option to add an additional 3% in contributions to their TSP.

Working people across the country are already struggling to pay their bills as wages have stagnated but the Heritage Foundation wants workers to fund their own retirements by taking more out of their paychecks.

The private sector shifted to 401K retirements over the last two decades as a way to reduce their operating costs and force the employee to plan and fund their own retirement. The loss of employer-funded pensions is also why many seniors are forced to work well past retirement age and rely more on Social Security to pay their bills.

The Heritage Foundation also suggests that lawmakers make it easier to fire workers by reducing the “burden of proof necessary to fire” workers and expanding the probationary period for workers three fold.

On top of that the Heritage Foundation want Congress to cut federal workers vacation time (Annual Leave) and Sick Leave to replace it with a “paid time off” system. This means if a worker gets sick they would not longer have a bank of Sick Leave to draw from but would have to draw from their total PTO time. This is the same program that has screwed private sector workers out of their paid sick leave.

The report does not indicate whether or not a worker would be allowed to carry over any unused PTO like they can with Annual and Sick leave now.

Lastly the Heritage suggested that Congress should strip away all retirement health benefits from workers yet to be hired.

Right-wing think tanks like the Heritage Foundation like to tell everyone that federal workers are overpaid and have outrageous benefit packages but many others argue that is not the case.

“Federal employees remain significantly underpaid compared to their private sector counterparts, according to a review by a group advising the president on federal wages, with feds’ pay lagging 35 percent behind non-federal workers performing similar jobs,” wrote Government Executive in a 2015 article.

Jessica Klement, legislative director of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association told GovExec that, “federal pay lags behind industry in many sectors and large companies often offer benefits the government does not.”

“If anything, the federal government should start to emulate those practices, not move further away from attracting top talent to serve our nation,” Klement added.

David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, called the report a “vicious” attack on the federal workforce.

“It is disgusting to advocate for cutting the pay for the people who care for our veterans, patrol our borders, and inspect our food, while showering the wealthy with billions in tax cuts,” Cox said.

Private sector workers are already feeling the downward pressure of the ongoing race to the bottom. They have already begun to lose their healthcare benefits, the vacation time, and their pay. Now wealthy business elites, with the help of their “think tank” the Heritage Foundation, have turned their sights on federal workers.

We need to stop letting these wealthy business executives and greedy politicians pit worker against worker. The result will leave working people suffering while they reap all the benefits of our hard work.

Does The Government Shutdown Mean “The End of the World”? The Radical Religious Right Thinks So

The End of the World Is Nigh

Ok, so maybe the government shutdown IS “the end of the world.”  At least as far as some Tea Party leaders are concerned.

Yes, seriously.  No, this is not a joke.

This eye-opening analysis comes from Rev. Morgan Guyton, a pastor in Louisiana:

I wanted to do some research into the theological roots of Senator Ted Cruz, the standard-bearer of the Tea Party Republicans behind the shutdown… It turns out that Ted’s father, Rafael Cruz, is a pastor with Texas charismatic ministry Purifying Fire International who has been campaigning against Obamacare the last several months. He has a distinct theological vision for what America is supposed to look like: Christian dominionism.

Here’s Christian Zionist charismatic pastor Larry Huch, a year ago, when he was introducing Sen. Cruz’s father as a guest preacher at Huch’s “New Beginnings” megachurch:

But here’s the exciting thing… The rabbinical teaching is… that in a few weeks begins that year 2012 and that this will begin what we call the end-time transfer of wealth.  …It’s said this way: that God is looking at the church and everyone in it and deciding in the next three and a half years who will be his bankers. And the ones that say here I am Lord, you can trust me, we will become so blessed that we will usher in the coming of the messiah.

Here’s how the Rev. Guyton distills the current state of Cruz’s theology:

The reason governmental regulation has to disappear from the marketplace is to make it completely available to the plunder of Christian ‘kings’ who will accomplish the ‘end time transfer of wealth.’ Then ‘God’s bankers’ will usher in the ‘coming of the messiah.’ The government is being shut down so that God’s bankers can bring Jesus back.

—–

OK, take a minute to breathe here.  Remember that most Christians (including, particularly, Rev. Guyton) don’t believe that bankers can bring Jesus back.  (Most Christians take a very different message from the Bible.  Remember my post “The Republicans Make an Offer on Sequestration”?)

But it’s a very enlightening perspective on the current federal crisis.

—–

Prepared for even more enlightenment?  Read Rev. Guyton’s post on “The God of No Compromise and the Government Shutdown.”

[For evangelicals], the word ‘compromise’ has always been a bad word. It means to allow non-Christian values and influences to corrupt your devotion to Biblical truth.  … a stormtrooper evangelical Republican must categorically reject any idea that is generated by a Democrat because accepting it would amount to a compromise of worldview.

This need to “categorically reject” Democratic ideas helps explain why the right-wing Heritage Foundation so adamantly opposes Obamacare.  If you’re a policy geek, you might remember that the Heritage Foundation actually proposed the individual mandate, back in 1989.  But now that’s a Democratic policy… Sen. Cruz believes it’s a reason to shut down the government.

It also helps explain why – no matter how hard President Obama may try to “compromise” – his attempts to “meet in the middle” are always going to be rejected.  Read “Translating from TeaPartyese: What ‘negotiate’ really means.”

Promises, promises…

A lot of promises were made, back when the Bush tax cuts were first enacted.

Back in 2001, the Heritage Foundation projected that:

  • “Under President Bush’s plan, an average family of four’s inflation-adjusted disposable income would increase by $4,544 in fiscal year (FY) 2011, and the national debt would effectively be paid off by FY 2010.”
  • “The plan would save the entire Social Security surplus and increase personal savings while the federal government accumulated $1.8 trillion in uncommitted funds from FY 2008 to FY 2011.” (“Uncommitted funds” is a fancy way of saying “surplus”.)

Did your family’s disposable income increase by $4,544 last year? (Wondering how the top 1% are doing? Browse through “How to Spend It” here.)

Has the national debt been paid off?
Is the Social Security surplus “safe”?
Has your family been able to increase your savings?

What happened to the $1.8 trillion federal surplus that was supposed to appear, after the tax cuts stimulated the economy and the “job creators” created jobs?

Lots of promises were made, back when Republican Leadership was forcing the Bush tax cuts through Congress. [Historical footnote: both the 2001 tax cuts and the 2003 tax cuts were passed in a way that made them exempt from Senate filibuster. In 2003, the Senate vote was 50-50 after Republican Senators John McCain, Lincoln Chafee and Olympia Snowe voted “nay”; and Vice President Dick Cheney cast the deciding vote to enact the bill.]

Those promises never panned out. But now, Republican leaders in Congress are acting as if high-income taxpayers are somehow entitled to the low tax rates they have been enjoying for the last decade

What’s up with this idea of “entitlement”?

Millions of American workers have paid into the Social Security system for decades, based on the promise that we would get Social Security benefits when we retired. Isn’t it reasonable for all of us workers to think we’re entitled to the benefits we contributed to? But now, Congressional Republicans are insisting on “adjustments to eligibility and benefits in the Social Security and Medicare programs.”

One man – Dick Cheney – cast the deciding vote to give the wealthy their tax cuts; but now Congressional Republicans think those tax cuts are somehow sacred. Just two days ago, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told a hometown newspaper that any “fiscal cliff” deal “must not raise taxes on wealthy.”

Sense of “entitlement”?

“Gifts” from the government?

The Bush tax cuts were supposed to “jump-start” our economy. They were supposed to “trickle down” and enrich working families. They were supposed to eliminate the country’s debt. They didn’t do any of that – but now Congressional Republicans want us to pay the price, through cuts to our Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Didn’t they get the memo? Romney-Ryan lost.

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