That Good Ol’ Patronage System!

By John J. O’Grady, President, Local 704, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE Local 704), Chicago, Illinois

The word “patronage” is derived from the Latin word patronus for patronPatronage was the distinctive relationship in ancient Roman society between the patronus (patron) and his client.  The relationship was hierarchical, but obligations were mutual. The patronus was the protector, sponsor, and benefactor of the client; the technical term for this protection was patrocinium.   Benefits a patron might confer include legal representation in court, loans of money, influencing business deals or marriages, and supporting a client’s candidacy for political office.  In return, the client was expected to offer his services to his patron as needed.

The Federal bureaucracy in the years after the Civil War involved extensive patronage in selecting officials and supervising their work.  That system had evolved in the early nineteenth century, and relied on the well-known political adage, “to the victor belong the spoils.”  When a Democrat was elected President, all of the Republican appointees were swept out of office, and vice versa.  The idea of rotation in office caused by election of a candidate from the other party was thought to be “democratic.” Continue reading “That Good Ol’ Patronage System!”

Spared from Pension Hikes

Spared from Pension Hikes

  • By Tammy Flanagan National Institute of Transition Planning
  • December 13, 2013
martellostudio/Shutterstock.com

I’ve recently conducted several webinars, and each included a question-and-answer period at the end. But there were many more questions than I had time to answer. So I thought I’d address some of them here.

In the current fiscal environment and pressures of sequestration, how likely is it that changes will be made to the federal retirement rules and benefits in the next year or two?

I don’t like to be the one to say “I told you so,” but I did. I keep my optimism that Congress won’t make too many changes to the retirement benefits of federal employees since this group represents such a large voting population and federal employees are well-represented in in the political system by a variety of labor unions and associations. Continue reading “Spared from Pension Hikes”

U.S. Congress poised to limit contractor pay: Is $487,000 a year enough?

U.S. Congress poised to limit contractor pay: Is $487,000 a year enough?

By Andy Sullivan 1 hour ago
A general view of the U.S. Capitol Dome in Washington

A general view of the U.S. Capitol Dome in Washington, October 4, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Congress is poised to nearly halve the salary cap for U.S. government contractors after years of dramatic increases driven by skyrocketing executive pay.

A broad budget bill that won approval by the House of Representatives on Thursday would lower the cap to $487,000 a person, down from its current level of $952,000. The Senate is expected to pass the bill next week.

The measure would be a partial victory for the White House, which for years has sought to rein in contractor reimbursements that fund salary and other personnel costs. In May, the White House proposed limiting the reimbursement level to $400,000 a person – the amount Barack Obama earns as president.

At least 616 employees at contracting companies earned more than that last year, according to the Government Accountability Office. Continue reading “U.S. Congress poised to limit contractor pay: Is $487,000 a year enough?”

Budget deal a step backward: Opposing view

Budget deal a step backward: Opposing view

Michael A. Needham 10:45 p.m. EST December 10, 2013

More spending and higher fees.

While imperfect, the sequester has proved to be an effective tool in reducing base discretionary spending. Nonetheless, conservatives have expressed a willingness to alter the budget caps established by the 2011 debt ceiling deal in exchange for immediate and substantive structural reforms that significantly reduce spending and address the real drivers of our debt.

OUR VIEW: Beats another shutdown Continue reading “Budget deal a step backward: Opposing view”

UPDATE 4-U.S. budget deal could usher in new era of cooperation

Reuters

UPDATE 4-U.S. budget deal could usher in new era of cooperation

Wed Dec 11, 2013 8:30am IST

* Democrat Murray, Republican Ryan announce two-year accord

* Approval could quell government shutdown threats

By Richard Cowan and David Lawder

WASHINGTON, Dec 10 (Reuters) – A bipartisan budget deal announced in the U.S. Congress on Tuesday, though modest in its spending cuts, would end three years of impasse and fiscal instability in Washington that culminated in October with a partial government shutdown.

While praised by the Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the agreement faces a challenge from some House conservatives and will require support of the minority Democrats to pass.

The backing of President Barack Obama, who also hailed the agreement as “a good first step,” should help round up votes of his fellow Democrats. He urged Congress to quickly pass it.

Obama and most congressional leaders long ago abandoned talk of larger but increasingly elusive “grand bargains” that would significantly slash the nation’s deficit. Continue reading “UPDATE 4-U.S. budget deal could usher in new era of cooperation”