Republican budget would take $32 billion from your TSP retirement savings

The Republicans slipped a little surprise for postal and federal workers into their recent budget proposal- essentially making the TSPs’ G Fund worthless, according to the Washington Post’s Joe Davidson:

Among the policy retreads, there was a surprise in the House package.

Republicans want to make the most popular employee investment fund in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) worthless. To save $32 billion over 10 years, House Republicans propose changing the fund’s interest-rate calculation, because, the resolution says, “those who participate in the G Fund are rewarded with a long-term rate on what is essentially a short-term security.”

Going after the TSP “is a new one,” said Kim Weaver, a TSP spokeswoman who has seen “nothing like this before.”

The savings for Uncle Sam would come at a great cost to his staff.

The fund’s current annualized interest rate is 1.88 percent. Adopting the House plan would result in a precipitous interest-rate drop to an annualized 0.01 percent, according to the TSP.

Read more: GOP budget plan has a surprise among list of cuts for federal employees – The Washington Post.

Flashback: Chaffetz wants to fire tax delinquent federal employees- but why stop there?

jason_chaffetzHere we go again- Congressman Jason Chaffetz, the supposedly kinder, gentler replacement for Darrell Issa on the House Oversight Committee, is conducting his semi-annual witch hunt for public sector tax delinquents.

Jason wants to fire federal employees who don’t pay their federal taxes. Sounds kind of reasonable, until you consider that the vast majority of tax delinquents in the US work for the private sector. Don’t hold your breath waiting for Jason to go after them. More importantly, IRS statistics show that federal employees have a far lower rate of delinquency than private sector workers. While GOP planted “news” stories often target US Postal Service workers as the worst of the lot because they owe the most money, it turns out that the delinquency rate for postal workers is exactly the same as the rate for another group of federal employees:

The House of Representatives!

Here’s what we had to say about Jason’s first witch hunt, four years ago:

Congressman Jason Chaffetz had this to say today in the Daily Caller:

If you’re collecting a federal paycheck, you should pay federal taxes. That’s the premise of a bill I introduced last week to require federal employees to pay their taxes or be fired.

Going after public workers has become fashionable among right wing politicians- they follow Muslims, Gays, Hispanics and African Americans as the latest scapegoats for whatever is ailing the country at the moment. But there is a certain logic to Chaffetz’s argument. He suggests working for the federal government is a privilege, and that in order to benefit, you should satisfy all your obligations to the feds. Fair enough- and Chaffetz goes so far as to say he would include federal contractors in the deal- don’t pay your taxes, your contracts get cancelled.

But I think Jason is missing something here- he says “No one who ducks a federal tax obligation should be eligible to benefit from federal funds.” But he only targets federal employees and contractors. How about all the other people who “benefit from federal funds”? Wouldn’t that include people receiving Social Security, Medicare, veteran’s benefits, crop subsidies, disaster relief, food stamps, small business loans, Wall Street bailouts, and all the rest? Come to think of it, exactly who in this country doesn’t “benefit from federal funds”?

So shouldn’t the law be rewritten to require that ANY employer terminate any employee who is seriously delinquent in their federal taxes? Or, at the very least, shouldn’t ALL of their federal benefits be terminated? Fair is fair, right?

Somehow I don’t think the Congressman will go that far- after all, a certain subset of the tea party types that he’s desperately trying to woo have a major problem with the very idea of the federal income tax. So I’d only suggest that the Congressman correct one other logical flaw in his bill. If you’re after people who “benefit from federal funds”, remember that the big agency that always gets mentioned first in these stories, the US Postal Service, doesn’t receive any!

via Chaffetz wants to fire tax delinquent federal employees- but why stop there? | postalnews blog.

Update on TV personality’s claim that USPS is spying on her

The Washington Post has published an update to the story of the former network TV personality, Sharyl Attkisson’s charges that the US Postal Service was spying on her computer. According to the Post story, a USPS “communication channel” was “opened into her Toshiba laptop”.

The details came in a court filing obtained by the Post. There’s no word on whether or not Ms. Attkinsson had recently been checking her local post office’s hours, or perhaps looking at the pretty stamps:

Among other findings, Ms. Attkisson’s computer forensics expert has identified an unauthorized communications channel opened into her Toshiba laptop directly connected to an Internet Provider (IP) address belonging to a federal agency, specifically the United States Postal Service, indicating unauthorized surveillance.

The Post quoted a postal service spokesperson as saying the agency had not yet received a copy of the complaint, but that the USPS does not believe there is any truth to the charges.

Read more: Postal Service disputes claims in Sharyl Attkisson’s hacking lawsuit – The Washington Post.

Self-styled “Investigative Journalist” says USPS spied on her computer

A little known former network television personality, Sharyl Attkisson, has filed suit in Federal Court claiming that the US Postal Service has been spying on her computer. Why the USPS would be interested in Attkisson’s computer is not clear. According to Atkkisson’s web site, her suit also names “the U.S. Department of Justice, and certain unnamed employees and/or agents of the federal government”.

Here’s the announcement of the suit, from her personal blog:

Washington, D.C., (January 5, 2015)—Investigative Journalist Sharyl Attkisson has filed administrative claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act against the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Postal Service, and certain unnamed employees and/or agents of the federal government. Attkisson has also filed a lawsuit in the District of Columbia alleging certain violations of her constitutional rights based on information implicating the federal government in illegal electronic monitoring and surveillance of her home and business computers and phones from 2011 to 2013.

Attkisson worked for CBS for 20 years, where in recent years she pushed stories about Benghazi and the “Fast and Furious” investigation. She also aired a number of stories promoting the long discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. According to Politico, CBS let her go last March amid concerns by some staffers about her “agenda-driven” stories which raised questions about her impartiality.

Attkisson first charged that someone was spying on her computer in 2013. This past October she released a video that she claimed showed her PC being hacked. Security experts who viewed the video say it looks more likely that she had a stuck delete key.

Aside from the lack of real evidence of hacking, Attkisson’s claim that she was targeted for her anti-Obama stories seems a bit unlikely, given her relative obscurity. Fox News, after all, relied on Fast and Furious and Benghazi for the bulk of its programming for several years, and Darrell Issa held hearings on both subjects almost non-stop during the last Congress. Attkisson’s “reports” weren’t exactly groundbreaking. Which leaves one to wonder if the lawsuit and video are part of the publicity for her recently published book Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington. It’s also worth noting that Attkisson has been backed, in previous suits she has filed, by “Judicial Watch”, a right wing lobbying group which was originally created to finance legal attcks on the Clinton Administration.

So why is she suing the USPS? We still don’t know- stay tuned!

Journalist Computer Intrusion Lawsuit Filed Against U.S. Government | Sharyl Attkisson.

Illinois mail handler fired after ignoring Hatch Act to run for Congress- twice

marcuslewisAn Illinois mail handler has been fired after he ignored warnings that his campaigns for partisan political office violated the Hatch Act. Marcus Lewis, who worked at the Carol Stream IL processing plant, ran twice for the seat formerly held by Jesse Jackson Jr- first in the 2012 general election, and again in the 2013 special election that was called after Jackson resigned his office.

Lewis, a Republican, claimed he had no knowledge of the Hatch Act provision that prohibits most federal employees from competing in partisan elections- despite repeated warnings from the USPS and the Justice Department that he needed to choose between withdrawing from the election, or resigning his job. While Lewis ran as an independent, the elections were considered partisan, making them off-limits to federal workers.

In the 2012 general election, Lewis actually got 40,000 votes- but he was far behind both Jackson, and the official GOP candidate, getting just 13.5% of the vote. What little support he had mostly evaporated in the special election, when he recorded just 1,345 votes, or 1.6%, trailing even the Green Party nominee.

Not surprisingly for a failed GOP politician, Lewis has responded to the loss of his postal job by running to Fox News, which has proclaimed him a true folk hero. The network is attempting to compare Lewis’s firing to the suspension handed out to an IRS worker accused of political activities on the job, ignoring the simple fact that the IRS employee admitted that he had violated the law, and accepted his punishment, while Lewis still claims to be above the law. (Fox also conveniently fails to mention that the law Lewis violated is the 2012 update of the Hatch Act, passed by the GOP controlled House).

Lewis may also consider himself above reality- faced, he says, with the need for a job to support his family, he’s decided to- what else?- run for Congress again!