There is a budget deal. The joint House/Senate committee released a two-year budget last night. At first sign, everything appears to be pretty much cut and dried. The sequester cuts won’t be as severe. There will be some certainty for the markets and government contractors. And, for the first time in, I don’t know, several thousand dog years, we won’t face a government shutdown over the budget for a couple of years. Although it does nothing about the Debt Ceiling deadline in February!
The Republicans stayed away from their big three – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The Democrats stayed away from raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations. They also say that this budget will cut the deficit by $23 Billion. How are they going to pay for all of these differences!
First they are going to raise some fees. They don’t call them taxes, they are simply fees. Like air travel fees. Your air fare is going up because of higher fees being imposed. Now, I don’t really have a problem with user fees. If someone is going to fly, there are costs associated with that in security, safety, etc. These functions need to be paid for and it is more fair to have the users pay for it than everyone.
There is a big BUT though in one aspect that the public rarely hears about. First, we are not closing any loopholes in corporate taxes, so those companies who pay absolutely nothing in taxes will continue to pay no taxes even though they are making billions of dollars per year in profits. The super rich will have no tax increases. So, Mr. Romney will continue to pay less of his income to taxes than his administrative assistant! Yet, we are going to cut $23 billion from the deficit.
As usual, we are going to pay for the deficit cuts on the backs of government employees and military personnel. You know the people the Republicans call un-American slugs who make our lives miserable and just take from the cookie jar of government money! But then again, they are used to being the targets of spending cuts.
The government employees have had their pay frozen since 2010. In essence they have 7% less buying power since before the freeze. In reward for their sacrifice, they are going to get a whopping 1% pay raise in 2014! But, they aren’t going to really get that pay raise because the budget deal requires them to contribute 1.2% more of their income into their retirement plan! The average earning from a government pension is just over $12,000 per year! They aren’t going to get any increase for their additional contribution, just less money in their pockets each paycheck! Oh, by the way, from what I can find in the budget, members of Congress will NOT increase their contributions to their pensions. Which by the way averages almost $45,000 per year with less than 10 years in Congress!
The fore mentioned pay freeze is just the tip of the iceberg! In February hundreds of thousands of federal workers were forced into unpaid furloughs in accordance with sequestration’s across-the-board budget cuts. On average, each worker, in every federal agency, were forced to take 15 unpaid days off! So, their pay was frozen and still had to lose a half-month pay on top of that! Is it any wonder that the federal government is finding it hard to recruit new talent?
In order to help save money, the budget deal also reduces pensions for members of our military. Instead of the full cost-of-living adjustments each year, military pensioners under the age of 62 will receive the CPI less 1% in cost-of-living adjustments. So, a person takes on the responsibility of protecting our country, is on call 24 hours per day 7 days per week, risks his/her life, has months of separation from their families, accepts low pay for their service, and now must get less in pension. That really sounds fair doesn’t it?
Look, I know that in order to properly fund any budget there needs to be cuts in place to keep the deficit low. However, I am sick and tired of our government workers and military personnel taking the brunt of these “savings”! This is not the first time either. Many may remember the 1970′s when inflation was running about 12% and federal workers and military personnel had their pay raises frozen at 5%. It was hard enough supporting a family on military pay, but that almost bankrupted me!
Government workers are not un-Americans sitting at the government money trough! They work hard and are extremely dedicated people who want to serve our country! I don’t think I need to say anything about military personnel and their dedication. It is time for Congress to stop this inhumane assault on these workers every time they want to save a dime! It is time for corporations and the super rich to pay their fair share of taxes. It is time for Congress to pass some legislation that will create JOBS in this country so tax revenues will rise with increased employment! It is time for Congress to look in the mirror and WISH they were as dedicated and patriotic as government workers and military personnel.
I really don’t know if I want this budget to pass. I suppose I am leaning in favor of it because I don’t want to keep lurching from crisis to crisis. But I also don’t want government employees and military personnel to bear the most impact of it either! I guess it is a first step. But, we need to make sure that the second step doesn’t affect them again! It is time for the Koch Brothers, and others like them, to pay their fair share of the burden! In reality, they are the ones feeding at the government money trough through the corporate welfare system established by the Republicans!