Raiding federal employee savings plan for highway bill ‘shameful’

As if the data breach wasn’t insult enough? Now, not even on the heels of the exposure of highly personal, sensitive and private information putting at risk the financial and personal well-being of millions of federal employees, retirees and prospective employees, comes word that lawmakers on Capitol Hill may be planning to pick the pockets of federal civilian employees and uniformed military personnel to finance a highway bill. Seriously?

Even the green eyeshade members of the House and Senate Budget committees reportedly abandoned one particularly bad idea assumed in the House Budget Resolution: reducing the rate of return on the federal employee Thrift Savings Plan G Fund. An estimated $30+ billion in savings, out of the thought-to-be safest investment accounts of the nation’s federal civilian and uniformed military personnel. But no bad idea deserves to be ignored, it seems. The bad idea appears to be part of a brewing financing package for the highway bill.

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Make no mistake: every nickel redirected by the proposal is a nickel out of the personal savings that would have otherwise supported a retired public servant.

After years of fed bashing, the news of the past several weeks about the ever-growing data breach, and successive hearings on Capitol Hill, appeared to evoke some sympathy for federal employees. Well, it seems as though the lawmakers who are writing a new highway bill are not the compassionate sort. You would have thought that feds, who by their nature are conservative in their finances if not their way of life, would have enough to worry about by way of identity theft and credit chicanery. And now a raid on their modest retirement nest eggs? Shameful. Absolutely shameful.

Of course, there is the possibility that the transportation measure drafters were just looking out for the best interests of civilian and military personnel. Perhaps they figured that if their retirement accounts were smaller they would have less to worry about! Somehow, that one doesn’t pass the smell test.

From Alan G. Lopatin, chairman, Federal-Postal Coalition, Washington, D.C.


Sugar Association misrepresented

Readers should question Michael Rosenbaum’s motives for his July 9 Contributors blog post “Congress is letting the SWEET Act go sour,” given his willingness to grossly mischaracterize our comments.

By using select parts of comments we submitted to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines committee, Mr. Rosenbaum is able to support his thesis. Mr. Rosenbaum chose to omit the first part of the sentence for his post, which dramatically changes the meaning (italicized for emphasis):

Although we contend that the science the Committee has used to support its links and association between ‘added sugars’ and serious disease outcomes is weak, we strongly contend that without the substantial inclusion of [sugar-sweetened beverages] studies, there would be little or no scientific evidence to support or even imply any association between ‘added sugars’ and disease outcomes.”

Had Mr. Rosenbaum read our comments in their entirety, he would have known we raised serious concerns that the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee used observational studies on sugar-sweetened beverages to make recommendations for all “added sugars” intake. Our point was that Dietary Guidelines recommendations should be based on an evaluation of the full body of scientific literature and not limited science on one source of intake.

That’s very different than his portrayal. And readers deserve better.

From Andy Briscoe, president and CEO, The Sugar Association, Washington, D.C.