Fedweek

The Congressional Budget Office has presented a list of familiar potential cuts to federal employment and retirement benefits as cost-savers, the latest in a series of similar reports over many years.

While the CBO does not endorse the options, they carry weight on Capitol Hill because they would count as real savings in the congressional budget process. Congressional Republicans have included them in cost-saving proposals for many years, as did President Trump in his budgets, although they have generally been blocked by Democratic opposition.

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The main exception was passage of two increases in the required retirement contributions by FERS employees that resulted in three separate levels depending on when they were hired.

The latest list includes an option to require all FERS employees to pay at the highest of those rates, the 4.4 percent required of those hired since 2013, to be phased in over four years.

Also on the list are:

* Adopting a “voucher” arrangement to determine government contributions toward FEHB premiums. Instead of paying a percentage of premiums, the government share would be set at a fixed rate and then increased annually by amounts less than premium increases, shifting more of the cost to enrollees.

* Increasing federal retirement benefit and other inflation-linked programs according to an index that produces smaller annual increases than the one currently used.

* Reducing annual federal pay raises by a half percentage point versus what would be paid under federal pay law (a law that in actual practice has not been followed, however).

* Increasing required payments into the Social Security system through steps such as increasing the payroll tax rate and making more of salary taxable, and reducing the value of those benefits through steps such as increasing the age at which full benefits are paid.

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