Saturday, December 29, 2018

Loss of Confidence

Well, it has happened, again.

Washington is a shambles and the mess caused by the leadership is being borne on the backs of the Federal workers.

Yesterday it was announced that there would be no 2019 pay raise although the formula for determining raises suggested a 2.1 percent raise. That raise would have just barely kept up with the rising costs associated with medical premiums, and the general cost of living. As it is, all federal workers will fall further behind. And some wonder why so many qualified federal workers are jumping to take higher paying jobs with contractors. 

Here is a partial list of the government shutdown casualties from the Axios newsletter:

All Smithsonian Museums and the National Zoo will close January 2, per NPR.

The Environment Protection Agency is set to soon run out of money, and will furlough employees on Saturday if no funding deal is reached by the end of the day Friday, 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture had announced payments for farmers who have been hardest hit by the U.S. trade war with China. But with the government remaining shut down for more than a week, some farmers may not receive their promised checks and won't be able to receive farm loans or disaster assistance, according to the AP. 

The Federal Trade Commission will need to suspend all investigations and litigation by Friday, including a high-profile investigation of Facebook.

The Office of Personnel Management released a template letter Thursday for furloughed government employees to use to request smaller payments from creditors or landlords. One version of the letter included the suggestion that employees offer "the possibility of trading services to perform exchange for partial rent payments."

The last one really hurts. Some brilliant senior government executive is suggesting that federal workers trade maintenance services for rent. Really? Think about that for a minute. Would you really want a furloughed federal worker fixing your faucet? They may be great  as a security guard, but as a part-time plumber? They are skilled federal workers, and likely not trained maintenance people.

Frankly, people do not join the ranks of the Federal government to be used as pawns in chess match between forces of government.

That written, many Federal Workers are fortunate, so far, to be working for departments which have funding. Perhaps that is why this shutdown will last so long. Defense is so far unaffected, but the Coast Guard, on the other hand, is definitely affected. As are the people working for TSA and Customs.

While demanding border security, the very people who work to secure the borders are being furloughed or asked to work without an expectation of receiving a paycheck. 

Here are details for those agencies from CNBC:

More than 420,000 federal employees across numerous agencies will continue to work even as the government shuts down. They just won't get paid for it immediately.
Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee said that number will include more than 41,000 federal law enforcement and correctional officers from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and thousands of other law enforcement and correctional officers.
The vast majority of Department of Homeland Security employees will also work without a regular paycheck. The nearly 90 percent of workers in the agency affected by a shutdown would include 53,000 Transportation Security Administration employees, as well as 42,000 Coast Guard employees.
As many as 54,000 employees from Customs and Border Protection — the agents who are currently working to secure the southern U.S. border — were also projected to work without paychecks. By forcing a shutdown over border security, Trump was expected to cause the agents he often lauds for their efforts to stop illegal immigration to temporarily go without compensation.
Up to 5,000 Forest Service firefighters and 3,600 National Weather Service forecasters will also keep working without paychecks, according to Senate Democrats.
Federal workers should not shoulder the brunt of the dysfunction in Washington.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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