With Election in the Rear View Mirror, Serious Threats on the Horizon for Federal Employees
Winning by a count of 303 electoral votes to Republican opponent Mitt Romney’s 206 (Florida’s 29 EV’s are still outstanding), Barack Obama cinched a second four-year term as President of the United States. Among the many responsibilities of the President is to lead the Executive branch, effectively serving as the CEO of the federal government. Now that we know who the boss is, what does this mean for us, the employees?
In short, federal employees dodged a major bullet. Between the two, Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan have called for reductions in federal pay and benefits, increasing the amount you pay toward your pension by six times, cutting 200,000 federal jobs, and eliminating federal programs, just to name a few.
With this brief scare behind us, it would be normal be look at what’s in store for the next four years of the President’s term. But for several reasons, federal employees won’t have that luxury. Instead it will be the next two months that count the most. Though there was some considerable change in the House and Senate, some things in Washington remain very much the same despite the election. The so-called fiscal cliff – a mix of tax increases, unemployment benefit cuts, and budget reductions – looms large over the nation, threating the fragile economic recovery that has just started to gather steam. Effective January 2nd, the shoe will drop on all of these policy changes, doing serious damage to the economy.
For federal employees, the most pressing element of the fiscal cliff is sequestration, the automatic $1.2 trillion in budget cuts put in place following Congress’ failure to reach a deficit reduction agreement last year. Under the law, roughly $100 billion would be cut from defense and non-defense federal agencies every year for a decade. Countless studies have shown that such massive cuts would result in tens of thousands of furloughs, hiring freezes, and potentially RIFS at many agencies. Unless President Obama and Congress can come to an agreement to delay or solve the sequestration issue through a deficit reduction compromise, federal employees will feel the pinch.
“The President and Congress have a great deal on their plate with the sequestration deadline approaching so quickly,” said NFFE National President William R. Dougan. ‘We’re reaching out to as many elected officials as we can to explain just how devastating an effect this would have on federal employees. This is our number one priority right now. We cannot allow sequestration to happen.”
Even if Congress manages to reach a deal, federal employees are caught between a rock and a hard place. Several Republican legislators in the House and Senate have proposed cutting 10% of the federal workforce to pay for one year’s reprieve from sequestration. If such a deal were to pass, federal employees would be hurt just as badly as if it were allowed to go through.
The solution, then, is for members to stand up and demand that their elected officials come to a responsible deficit reduction agreement that recognizes the $75 billion in cuts to pay and benefits federal employees have already sacrificed to get our nation’s fiscal house in order. Time is running short. Without your participation, 2013 could be a very tough year for federal employees. Do you part to help your fellow federal employees – call Congress (on your own time, using your own phone) and tell them to prevent sequestration responsibly now!
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