October 06, 2012
Tim Kauffman
[email protected]

AFGE Urges Lawmakers to Reject Simpson-Bowles Revival

WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees today urged lawmakers to vigorously resist attempts to rehabilitate the fatally flawed recommendations of Morgan Stanley Director Erskine Bowles and ex-Senator Alan Simpson.

“The Simpson and Bowles plan died two years ago when their commission failed to endorse it, and I don’t see any reason to dig it up now,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.

Not only does the Simpson-Bowles plan rely too heavily on spending cuts and not enough on raising new revenue, its spending cuts fall disproportionately on federal employees, who make up just six-tenths of one percent of Americans.

“It is outrageous and indefensible to ask an infinitesimal fraction of middle class workers to bear fully half of all discretionary non-defense cuts to reduce a deficit that they did nothing to create,” Cox said.

Simpson-Bowles cuts the deficit on the backs of the Veterans Affairs nursing assistant who makes about $24,000 a year caring for our wounded veterans, and on the Border Patrol agent who risks his life hunting down drug smugglers for about $40,000 a year.

Here’s what their terrible plan would do:

  • Freeze federal wages for three additional years, even though federal workers haven’t had a raise since January 2010. In the meantime, costs for health care premiums, rent, groceries, child care, gas and electricity continue to rise.

  • Voucherize the federal employee health insurance plan, eventually shifting most of the program’s cost onto workers by tying the voucher to inflation, rather than the much higher rate of increase in medical costs. This is the prelude to voucherizing Medicare.

  • Eliminate 200,000 jobs across the federal government, or 10 percent of the total workforce. This would force the nursing assistant to take care of 30% more veterans with 30% less support.

  • Slash retirement benefits by charging workers more, and reducing the amount they receive. This would translate into potential benefits cuts of between one-third and one-half, leading to old age poverty for people who worked and faithfully contributed to a fully funded system for 30 years.

  • Drastically cut Social Security in the form of a higher eligibility age, a new formula to lower benefits as a percentage of pre-retirement earnings, and a lower, inferior formula for cost of living adjustments.

Federal employees were not the villains in the Wall Street financial crisis or the Great Recession. Yet the Simpson-Bowles plan would force them to shoulder fully half of the domestic discretionary cuts that the Budget Control Act of 2011 requires.

In a population of 312 million Americans, federal employees make up just 0.6%. Federal employees are the dedicated public servants who guard inmates in federal prisons, provide health care to veterans in VA hospitals and clinics, ensure Social Security and veterans’ benefits checks are sent out on time, protect public health by enforcing clean air and water standards, and protect our homeland.

“Simpson-Bowles is an ugly, unfair, and immoral assault on the federal workforce, and their ideas deserve total rejection and repudiation,” Cox said.

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