government workers

Government shutdown continues, furloughed workers likely to be paid

If you were hoping the impasse over the Continuing Resolution (CR) and ObamaCare would be solved over the weekend, you no doubt woke up to disappointing news this morning. Today is the seventh day of the government shutdown and it appears that the White House and Congress are no closer to a resolution.

While ObamaCare was the initial focus of House Republicans, they’ve now shifted their strategy to get a deal that would fund the federal government and raise the debt limit, which will be reached in 10 days.

The White House believes that they “are winning,” according to an anonymous source quoted in the Wall Street Journal, and that “[i]t doesn’t really matter” how long the government shutdown lasts “because what matters is the end result.” Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) had harsh words in response to that quote, telling reporters on Friday that “[t]his isn’t some damn game.”

What happens when the government shuts down…

There’s a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth about the government shutdown that started today. Democrats in both chambers of Congress have been complaining about how it will slowdown basic services and hurt Americans. But there are a lot of misconceptions about what services and programs are affected.

Reason magazine put together the video below back in 2011 listing the departments, agencies and programs that will continue running during a government shutdown. Medicare will continue running and Social Security checks will still go out. The IRS will, unfortunately, continue to operate. The United States Postal Service and the TSA will also work through a shutdown.

Non-essential government workers will be furloughed, though it’s likely that they’ll get paid when an agreement is reached on spending. President Barack Obama and Congress will, unfortunately, continue to receive their paychecks during a shutdown.

Check out the video from Reason:

IRS to give out $70 million in bonuses to union employees

At a time when the Internal Revenue Service is under fire for targeting Tea Party and conservative groups and its lavish spending at conferences, the embattled agency will soon dole out $70 million in taxpayer-funded bonuses to union employees:

The Internal Revenue Service is about to pay $70 million in employee bonuses despite an Obama administration directive to cancel discretionary bonuses because of automatic spending cuts enacted this year, according to a GOP senator.

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa says his office has learned that the IRS is executing an agreement with the employees’ union on Wednesday to pay the bonuses. Grassley says the bonuses should be canceled under an April directive from the White House budget office.
“The IRS always claims to be short on resources,” Grassley said. “But it appears to have $70 million for union bonuses. And it appears to be making an extra effort to give the bonuses despite opportunities to renegotiate with the union and federal instruction to cease discretionary bonuses during sequestration.”

The IRS said it is negotiating with the union over the matter but did not dispute Grassley’s claim that the bonuses are imminent.

Why do Democrats hate labor unions? Wait…what?

We all know how labor activists, with the support of many Democrats, acted when Gov. Scott Walker and the Wisconsin legislature proposed and acted upon a reasonable proposal to curb collective bargaining for public-sector workers unions to help deal with the state’s budget crisis.

Other states have acted as well, and it’s not just red states. The Massachusetts House of Representatives, which is overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats, easily passed legislation that would allow municipalities to limit collective bargainly for public-sector workers:

House lawmakers voted overwhelmingly last night to strip police officers, teachers, and other municipal employees of most of their rights to bargain over health care, saying the change would save millions of dollars for financially strapped cities and towns.

The 111-to-42 vote followed tougher measures to broadly eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees in Ohio, Wisconsin, and other states. But unlike those efforts, the push in Massachusetts was led by Democrats who have traditionally stood with labor to oppose any reduction in workers’ rights.

Unions fought hard to stop the bill, launching a radio ad that assailed the plan and warning legislators that if they voted for the measure, they could lose their union backing in the next election. After the vote, labor leaders accused House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and other Democrats of turning their backs on public employees.

Wisconsin government employees protest a perfectly reasonable proposal

Today has been a crazy busy day for me, but the events in Wisconsin have caught my eye. In case you haven’t heard, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) is looking for a way to fix the state’s budget by asking state employees (ie. taxpayer-funded jobs) to pay more for their health insurance benefits and pensions.

From the release from Gov. Walker’s office:

The state of Wisconsin is facing an immediate deficit of $137 million for the current fiscal year which ends July 1. In addition, bill collectors are waiting to collect over $225 million for a prior raid of the Patients’ Compensation Fund.

The budget repair bill will balance the budget and lay the foundation for a long-term sustainable budget through several measures without raising taxes, raiding segregated funds, or using accounting gimmicks.

First, it will require state employees to pay about 5.8% toward their pension (about the private sector national average) and about 12% of their healthcare benefits (about half the private sector national average). These changes will help the state save $30 million in the last three months of the current fiscal year.

While some 10,000 workers are throwing a collective fit at the state capitol in Madison, the Wall Street Journal notes that if these if these measures are rejected by the state legislature, a cut of some 6,000 state jobs would be necessary to fill the budget gap. Given those circumstances, it would seem that the measures propsed by Gov. Walker are entirely reasonable.

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