My Letter to Rep. Loudermilk on Scapegoating Federal Workers

Woodstock, Georgia 30189

June 6, 2017

Dear Congressman Loudermilk,

I am a constituent and also a member of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE). I rarely write you, although I differ with most of your policies, because I would be writing once a week. But I am outraged by the proposed cuts to cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for federal annuitants in the president’s fiscal year 2018 budget. Reducing and eliminating COLAs is an unprecedented attack on federal workers and retirees.

I am proud of spending 32 years of my life working in one of our national security agencies. Of course I received a salary, but I—along with my colleagues—felt we were serving our country as well as doing a job. Virtually all of us routinely worked for more than the eight hours per day we were paid for. Working many Saturdays and Sundays without compensation was also considered part of the job. As I write this letter, I have in sight four certificate-of-merit-type commendations I received for my services, including one from the State Department to which I was seconded for two years and another from a foreign government.

When I joined the federal work force, I had just spent two years on active duty in the United States Army, which I joined as a volunteer, not as a draftee, even though I could have continued receiving a deferment to continue my post-graduate education. Nine months of that service was spent in a combat division in Vietnam.

Based on that record, Congressman Loudermilk, I ask a blunt question: where the hell do you and your colleagues get off using the federal workforce as scapegoats to reduce spending so you can continue to provide low tax rates to your wealthy sugar daddy contributors? Because that is the Alpha and Omega, the sum and substance, of what you are doing. Just like you did with your atrocious “health care” bill, which is nothing but a tax cut for the wealthy as the expense of middle class and poor Americans, disguised as reformed health care.

(Some day, I’d like to have a talk with you about how you square denying health care to millions of Americans with Jesus’ Golden Rule, which I assume you claim to live by. Same question about calling women bimbos, bragging about sexually assaulting them, mocking the handicapped, and using an ethnic slur to insult a federal judge. We could also discuss observing God’s 10 Commandments, weighed against lies about Obama’s birth place and about millions of illegal voters—among other lies. Then we could deal with the Commandment about committing adultery. Have you or Trump ever actually read the Bible?)

Please, DO NOT send me a bunch of claptrap about the need to reduce the federal deficit. I am well informed on the nature of federal spending and the origin of our deficits. That is precisely why I am disgusted with your demagogic use of federal employees as scapegoats to avoid making the hard choices need to get our fiscal house in order. Which is what you are doing.

Some specifics about reform? Start here:

  • Get Americans who possess an overwhelmingly disproportionate share of the nation’s wealth to pay their fair share of taxes.
  • Reduce the mortgage interest deduction and put it on a sliding scale, so the wealthier you are, and the more homes you buy, the less deduction you get.
  • Eliminate waste in the defense budget

Did you read the recent article in the New York Times magazine: How Homeownership
Became the Engine of American Inequality?
I’d be interested in your evaluation.

Please begin any response you (or your staff) make to this letter with this comment: “I am aware that the size of the federal work force, measured against the increase in the U.S. population and the resulting increased need for government services, is proportionally smaller than it was 10 or 20 years ago.” Facts never hurt any honest person, right?

Just to show you I am fully informed about the COLA issue: Specifically, the budget eliminates COLAs for current and future retirees under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and reduces the COLA for retirees under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). COLAs, which are designed to prevent inflation from eating away our retirement, currently fail to accurately measure the spending of seniors, who are disproportionately affected by skyrocketing health care costs. Eliminating COLAs will cost retirees hundreds of thousands of dollars that they have already earned. These punitive cuts target public servants for no other reason than having worked for the federal government.

Under this proposal, the annuities on which we rely will be eroded away over the course of our retirement.  CSRS retirees, who do not receive Social Security, are already living on a fixed income and rely on these COLAs to maintain quality of life. Reducing them cruelly cuts away at their sole source of retirement income. Eliminating the COLA altogether for FERS retirees is unwarranted and a slap in the face for those who have spent decades serving this nation.

I ask that you reject any attempts to reduce or eliminate COLAs for federal workers and retirees and block any such attacks during the budget process. Thank you for your time and consideration of my views. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Tom Barksdale

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