Paul Ryan Pushes Plan to Trim Federal Pensions

Image: Paul Ryan Pushes Plan to Trim Federal Pensions

Tuesday, 29 Oct 2013 11:02 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Federal employees could see changes to their retirement benefits under separate proposals being offered by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and President Barack Obama that could save the government up to $132 billion over 10 years.

A plan put forward by Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, would require federal employees to increase retirement contributions while concurrently eliminating supplemental retirement payments for future federal workers, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

That plan would save $132 billion over 10 years.

At the same time, Obama offered his own plan in his 2014 budget proposal earlier this year that calls for increasing retirement contributions, but to a lesser degree. It also would end supplemental retirement payments to future federal workers.

The president's plan would save far less than Ryan's — about $20 billion over 10 years.

Democrats in both chambers of Congress, however, are opposed to both plans.

Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, for instance, believes that greater savings can be achieved by leaving federal benefits alone and making adjustments in payments to federal contractors, the Post noted.

According to the Post, federal employees hired before 1984 currently contribute about 7 percent of their salary to their retirement plan, while the government contributes 19 percent. Those employees pay no Social Security taxes and earn no Social Security benefits.

For employees hired after 1984, the government contributes 11.9 percent while the worker contributes 0.8 percent. They also devote 6.2 percent of wages up to $113,700 toward Social Security benefits.

Union groups representing federal employees are opposed to any changes in the retirement system. According to National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen M. Kelly, federal workers have made enough sacrifices, having to endure unpaid furloughs and layoffs because of the sequester while going without raises for the past three years. Making things worse, she said, was the recent government shutdown.

"The 16-day shutdown was, hopefully, the final act in the disparaging of federal employees," Kelley said in a statement to the Post.

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