Federal workers have been the redheaded stepchildren to the GOP in Congress for many years. First there was the Sequester that forced hundreds of thousands of federal worker to endure unpaid furloughs. Then federal workers had to endure the forced government shutdown caused by extremists in the House of Representatives in opposition to the Affordable Care Act.
Now Senators want to kick federal workers once again.
“Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) have reintroduced legislation that would end the defined benefit pension portion of the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) for new federal government hires starting six months after enactment.” (FedSmith.com)
Say what? This group of Senators wants to completely end the defined benefit portion of federal workers retirement. The bill named the Public-Private Employee Retirement Parity Act is being pushed as a way to cut costs.
Once again Republican are trying to balance their budgets on the backs of the dedicated federal workers. This is a monsters push in the race to the bottom.
The reason they say that federal workers should not be getting a defined pension plan is because the average worker does not have a defined pension plan anymore. The Senators explained in their press release.
“Federal workers enjoy both a defined benefit pension and a Thrift Savings Plan (equivalent to a 401(k)) with up to a 5% match, paid for by the taxpayers. The average private sector employee gets a 401(k) with a 3% employer match and no pension.”
Senator Burr said, “We cannot ask taxpayers to continue to foot the bill for public employee benefits that are far more generous than their own.”
What they should be asking is, why doesn’t the private sector have what federal employees have? For too long the GOP has pushed this idea that because you a private sector worker got screwed out of your pension it is not fair for anyone else to have one.
If I cannot have it, nobody can.
The Senators are correct that the private sector has continued to reduce pensions plans over the last 30 years.
Hedrick Smith, noted author and journalist, explained the decline in pension plans in a recent lecture in New Hampshire.
“By 1980, 84% of all companies with 100+ employees had a full pension for their retired workers; 70% of them had full healthcare coverage for retirees as well.
Now that ‘retirement security’ has all but disappeared. Only 30% of companies with 100+ employees offer a pension; and only 18% offer retiree healthcare. Those numbers go down every year, as workers who retired with these ‘outdated’ pensions are passing away.”
Workers have been shifted from a defined benefit plan to a 401(k) style plan. This puts their entire retirement in the hands of Wall Street gamblers. This has created many other problems.
Many workers lost their defined pension plan for a 401(k) when they were within a few years of retirement. This does not leave workers any time to build up their retirement savings plan to have adequate funds to retire. Others lost their entire retirement when their employer filed for bankruptcy, ie ENRON, even through workers retirements are supposed to be protected.
All of this is making retirees more and more dependent on Social Security.
The Social Security Administration released some staggering facts about how much seniors rely on Social Security.
- Among elderly Social Security beneficiaries, 53% of married couples and 74% of unmarried persons receive 50% or more of their income from Social Security.
- Among elderly Social Security beneficiaries, 23% of married couples and about 46% of unmarried persons rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income.
With proposed cuts to Social Security the need for a defined pension becomes even more important. With less money from retirements and less money in Social Security benefits that forces more seniors to live in poverty.
What’s next, cuts to food assistance programs? Oh wait they already did that!