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Adding ‘Headroom’ to the Debt Limit? Thank our Federal Employees and Postal Carriers

US CapitolA few days ago, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told Congress that the federal government would reach its debt limit at the end of this year.  As of January 1st, Secretary Geithner will be taking “extraordinary measures” to buy another two months’ time  for Congress to resolve its self-created fiscal cliff/debt limit crisis.

What are those “extraordinary measures”?  Almost all of them involve using the retirement funds of federal employees and postal workers to create artificial “headroom” under the debt limit.  You can read the details here.

Create your own fiscal crisis… then use it as justification to borrow from employees’ retirement funds (while complaining that long-promised retirement benefits are “not affordable”).  That’s what politicians tried to do here in New Hampshire, back in the early 1980s.

We’re having déjà vu all over again, watching the same scenario play out on the national stage all these decades later.

As of Tuesday, federal and postal employees’ retirement funds will become “headroom” under the debt limit.  Maybe the extra two months will give Speaker Boehner time to reconsider the GOP’s  allegiance to the ultra-rich.  Maybe it will give Congress time to fix the crisis it created.

In the meantime: to all those federal employees and postal carriers out there, “Thanks for the headroom!”

Read more about political attacks on federal employees here.

Read more about political attacks on the US Postal Service here.

 

What happened on Wall Street Today?

Many of us with 401(k)s were watching today’s stock market slide.  Today’s drop was the biggest one-day loss in more than a year.

What happened?  Here’s how the Wall Street Journal explains it:

“With the two houses of Congress split between Democrats and Republicans, investors are fearful of a contentious battle over taxes and the deficit that could take the U.S. government to the brink of another crisis. Political brinkmanship on deficit reduction helped trigger a downgrade of the U.S. government’s credit rating by Standard & Poor’s in August 2011.”

“This time, the concern is the ‘fiscal cliff,’ scheduled tax increases and spending cuts set to take place on Jan. 1 unless Congress reaches a compromise to avert the policy changes. The split houses of Congress, and continued partisan rancor, have fueled worries that legislators may not reach a compromise until the last minute, if at all.”

Read the full article here.

“Partisan rancor”?!?  Wait. Wasn’t that the one thing voters of all stripes complained about, in yesterday’s exit polls?

It didn’t take long for the gridlock to resume — not even 18 hours!  House Speaker John Boehner has already ruled out any compromise that includes tax increases on the rich.  Read “Republicans lay down battle lines over fiscal cliff” here.

Why can’t the national GOP take a clue from California, where the just-passed Proposition 30 will increase taxes on the wealthy for the next seven years?  The ballot measure prevents $6 billion in cuts to the state budget, mostly in public school funding.

New Hampshire still has a Republican Senator, Kelly Ayotte.  If you have a 401(k) and you’re concerned about what’s happening to your retirement savings, you can call her and suggest the Republican Party should become something other than “The Party of ‘No’.”  (Or, rather, “The Party of ‘No Tax Hikes on The Wealthy’.”)

Sen. Ayotte has offices in Manchester (603-622-7979), Nashua (603-880-3335), Berlin (603-752-7702) and Portsmouth (603-436-7161).

 

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