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Letters to the Editor: April 1

Mar. 31, 2013 - 08:53AM   |  
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Sequester’s impact

Federal employees have been the nation’s sacrificial lambs, bearing the brunt of deficit reduction efforts, including three years of pay freezes with early reports of an additional 20 percent reduction in pay for many under sequestration. However, sequestration cuts have been more damaging than the pay freeze, particularly for Defense Department employees.

Employees are now reducing or stopping contributions to their Thrift Savings Plan accounts to make their mortgage payments and pay their bills. Others are taking out loans against their retirement savings to make up the 20 percent salary reduction and pay freezes. All of these actions reduce future retirement benefits for these employees.

But there are other costs. Homes cannot be purchased. Additional personal loans must be made to keep kids in college or prepare them for starting college. Family vacations are canceled, home mortgages may go into default, cars are not repaired, or new cars are not purchased. Personally paid training courses are canceled, dining out is restricted, credit cards not paid. Retirements increase as the most experienced employees leave government. And employee morale is reduced. These are only a sample of adverse “trickle down” impacts.

However, there is a solution to our national debt problem. Congress should pass legislation requiring all businesses to furlough all their employees at least one day every two weeks, and send their equivalent salaries to the U.S. Treasury to pay down the debt — as do federal employees. Every citizen has either benefited from or contributed to our nation’s $16.5 trillion national debt, so all — not only federal employees — should sacrifice through a “national sequestration” to “pay their fair share.”

Handing over a portion of our nation’s salaries to the government would reduce our $16.5 trillion debt in short order.

— Joseph Avery, Woodbridge, Va.

It has been reported from the White House that federal employees will lose 20 percent of their pay due to sequestration.

In reality, federal employees will not lose 20 percent of their income. Let’s look at those who could be furloughed for 20 days — one day per week for 20 weeks. That is two days every two-week pay period. There are 26 pay periods in every year — 260 days worked. If employees are furloughed for 20 of those 260 days, that is about an 8 percent loss of pay over a year’s time — not 20 percent.

— Homer Ford, Muskogee, Okla.

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