Tell us what the impact of sequestration furloughs will mean to you

The Federal Workers Alliance (FWA)—a coalition of twenty-one labor unions, collectively representing more than 300,000 federal workers government wide—has created an online message board for members and their families to share their personal stories about the impact of sequestration and furloughs.
Let’s put a face to the wokers affected by Congress’ inaction. Our stories matter.

The board is very easy to use and there is no login required. The board can be accessed by clicking this link:

Here is what some of you are already saying about the impact of furloughs and sequestration on your families.

Impacts of Sequestration and/ or a full-year continuing resolution on the Army

MTD Holds Emergency Legislative Action Meeting on Sequestration

The Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO held an emergency legislative action meeting Thursday February 7, 2013, focusing on how to convince Congress to STOP sequestration and press Congress to pass a budget. “As dangerous as sequestration is, another continuing resolution worse,” said Metal Trades Department President Ron Ault.

If Congress cannot come to a bipartisan solution to avoid both a Defense Budget Continuing Resolution and sequestration the automatic and indiscriminate cuts will force the DoD to immediately layoff as many as 46,000 civilian employees. After March 15, another 800,000 civilian employees will lose 20 percent of their income to forced furloughs. And, that is just the tip of the iceberg. Economists predict that as many as 1 million jobs could be lost directly and indirectly over the next few years due to the cuts in shipbuilding maintenance and repair. With our economy just starting to recover from the great recession the cuts caused by another continuing resolution and sequestration will obliterate the gains we have made.

With most of our affiliates in attendance, or calling in via teleconference, the department has asked all of our affiliated unions to focus their resources on lobbying Congress on the effects of sequestration and the dangers of another CR on our federal workforce, our national security and our fragile U.S. economy.

Although sequestration provides short-term cuts and savings, delaying program acquisitions will actually raise the total cost of programs in the long run. This will mire us deeper in a fiscal hole.

Feds will not get paid if debt ceiling is not raised, Obama says

From the Federal Times:

Federal employees and military service members will not get paid if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling, President Obama said Monday.

The government also would not be able to honor its contracts with small-business owners, and Social Security checks and benefits for veterans would be delayed, Obama said during a news conference.

Obama reiterated his stance that he will not negotiate with Republicans — who are demanding spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.

“We are not a deadbeat nation,” Obama said. “Republicans in Congress have two choices here. They can act responsibly and pay America’s bills, or they can act irresponsibly and put America through another economic crisis. But they will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy.”

The federal government reached its debt limit Dec. 31, but Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said last month he could finagle another two months or so by taking so-called “extraordinary measures” before the debt ceiling would have to be raised. That implied Congress had more time to act and the government could keep running as-is until the end of February. However, the Bipartisan Policy Center think tank estimates the government could run out of money as early as Feb. 15.

Obama on Monday also appeared to dare House Republicans to shut down the government over the debt ceiling, as some GOP leaders have threatened.

“If the House Republicans … want to shut down the government to see if they can get their way on [deficit reduction], that’s their prerogative,” Obama said.

If Congress doesn’t want to raise the debt ceiling, Obama said, they should give him the authority to raise the limit on his own.

But the government’s current situation of one fiscal crisis after another is untenable, and must stop, Obama said.

“That’s not a credible way to run this government,” Obama said. “We’ve got to stop lurching from crisis to crisis to crisis when there’s this clear path ahead of us that simply requires some discipline, some responsibility, and some compromise.”

Federal Employees Day of Action

Federal Employees Day of Action

782Tuesday, December 18, 2012

(Federal Workers Alliance)

Federal Employees Day of Action is finally here and the momentum is already starting to build. Federal workers from all across the country are signing letters to congress, calling their elected officials, and building awareness on social media.

Why are so many federal employees stepping up and speaking out? The threat of Washington taking us over the fiscal cliff is scary for all Americans, but particularly so for federal employees. Depending on how Washington avoids the cliff – if at all – federal employees could see devastating cuts to their jobs, pay, retirement, and health care. The solution to this problem? Get active!

Use the tools listed below to make an impact on your livelihood and that of your fellow federal employees. If you don’t stand up for dedicated federal employees, who will?

Federal Employee Day of Action Toolkit:

Politics is not a spectator point – you must be the change you want to see in the world. Let’s make this change for federal workers and their families today!

*Please conduct these activities on your own time, using your own phone or computer*

Paying for a Jobs Bill by Cutting Federal Jobs?

Earlier this week, Senate Republicans rolled out their proposal for financing an extension of the Social Security payroll tax cut scheduled to expire at the end of December. Disappointingly, the conservative counteroffer is to pay for this job creation measure by cutting federal employees’ jobs and wages. The “pay-for” proposed by Senate Democrats — a 3.25 percent surtax on the 1-in-500 households earning over $1 million — for an expansion of the payroll tax cut is anathema to conservatives; Senate Republicans have already filibustered a litany of job-creation proposals that would be financed by varying millionaire surtaxes. Last night, the Senate Republicans filibustered yet another such jobs package — both the proposed extension and expansion were rejected in the Senate.

The Senate Republican proposal would limit federal agencies to hiring only one replacement employee for every three full-time employees leaving the agency until employment has fallen by 10 percent. This would result in roughly 280,000 job losses — ironic, given that the purpose of the payroll tax cut is to create jobs. Someone should remind the GOP that the purpose of a pay-for is to offset the cost of a policy, not its impact.

Laying off hundreds of thousands of federal workers is terrible policy for reasons beyond causing job loss during a jobs crisis. First, it ignores the need to keep up with a growing population. These civil service jobs deemed unnecessary by Senate Republicans include one out of 10 federal judges, FBI agents, Veterans Affairs doctors, National Institutes of Health cancer researchers, food safety inspectors, and air traffic controllers, to name just a few.

Second, haphazardly cutting certain agencies’ payroll would in many cases actually increase the budget deficit. Fewer Internal Revenue Service auditors would mean less tax enforcement and revenue. (In fiscal year 2010, 22,710 full-time IRS enforcement officers brought in $58 billion — an average of over $2.5 million per employee.) Fewer Medicare fraud investigators would mean more erroneous payments and unprosecuted fraudulent claims. Fewer employees at the Security and Exchange Commission would mean less enforcement of insider trading laws and greater incidences of financial fraud. As Brad Plumber points out, the SEC lost 10 percent of its staff between 2005 and 2007, even as the financial system’s rise in complexity would have justified a larger workforce. Small wonder the agency was unable to adequately identify financial institutions at risk of collapse or uncover Bernard Madoff’s multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

The Republican proposal would also freeze federal employees’ pay through 2015, extending a two-year freeze by another three years. Based on the Congressional Budget Office’s economic projections that would mean an 8.3 percent real wage cut for all federal employees over five years. The bill also symbolically proposed barring millionaires from receiving unemployment insurance and food stamps, and, less symbolically, would raise Medicare premiums for millionaires. (These mandatory savings account for only four percent of the proposed spending cut — the real money comes at the expense of federal workers, not millionaires.)

The proposal would book “savings” for this reduction in federal payroll be downwardly revising the discretionary spending caps for the second phase of the Budget Control Act (i.e., the debt ceiling deal) by $222 billion. If Congress allows the automatic sequestration cut to be triggered for 2013, the $109 billion cut for fiscal 2013 would come from this lower spending baseline. The unbalanced, spending-cuts-only approach to deficit reduction set in place by the Budget Control Act would be made even more lopsided.

The Senate Democratic proposal would raise $265 billion for an expanded payroll tax cut, leading to accelerated GDP growth going into 2012. Employees’ payroll tax rates would fall from 4.2 percent in 2011 to 3.1 percent in 2012 (instead of reverting to 6.2 percent as scheduled) and businesses would see reduced payroll tax rates for the first $5 million in payroll and limited expansions of payroll. The Senate Republican proposal would finance a $120 billion extension of the existing two percentage point payroll tax cut, which would leave the GDP accounts unchanged relative to current budget policy, with $231 billion in spending cuts. This would create an unnecessary drag on economic growth for two reasons. First, it would cut spending by significantly more than needed to offset the cost of the tax cuts. Second, while permanent tax increases on upper-income houses have relatively little impact on near-term economic activity, government spending cuts have a very adverse impact on growth and employment during periods of depressed economic activity.

The dog and pony show that was the super committee made clear that the 112th Congress is incapable of breaching a deep ideological rift over taxation and how to address the long-term budget deficit. If Democrats and Republicans can only agree that temporarily increasing middle-class paychecks is good for a weak economy, there is a third option for Congress: it should simply pass the tax cut without any offsets. After all, Congress didn’t pay for last year’s $858 billion tax deal that extended the Bush tax cuts for high-earners (tax cuts averaging $22,000 for households making more than $200,000). So why must we now insist on paying for an extension of a significantly cheaper middle-class tax cut? The only compelling reason to negotiate a payroll tax cut pay-for is to set the precedent that the Bush-era tax cuts only get extended if fully paid for. And voters didn’t seem to like the $4.5 trillion pay-for proposed in the House Republican budget.

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