Unfair to cancel federal pay raise

On Thursday, just before Labor Day, Trump showed what he thinks of workers, particularly the 686 federal workers who take care of our veterans at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain. Trump said, “We must maintain efforts to put our nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases,” as he cancelled the 2.1 percent cost-of-living adjustment due to go into effect for federal employees on Jan. 1, 2019. Trump did this just days after saying “the economy has never been better.” So the denial of the cost of living increase — actually less than the rate of inflation, –will result in a 3 percent decrease in real wages. The $5 billion the COLA would cost is 1/30th the $150 billion in Trump’s tax cuts, most going to the wealthy, (83 percent, according to The Tax Policy Center, as quoted in the Daily Intelligencer in December).

I wrote U.S. Representative Jack Bergman with my concern. His answer:

“At a time when our national debt is greater than $20 trillion and annual budget deficits are in the hundreds of billions of dollars, we must be vigilant about how we prioritize the federal budget. As your representative, I will support proposals that cut the size and scope of the federal budget, reform broken federal programs, and decrease our federal deficits each year.”

In other words, Bergman parroted Trump and did not commit work to enact the well-deserved 2.1 percent COLA for the federal workers who cook the food, administer the medications, clean the floors, make clinical decisions, treat the PTSD, and ease the burdens of all the veterans who need, use and depend on the care provided by the Oscar G. Johnson VA hospital. These workers are not faceless bureaucrats, distant ciphers shuffling red tape. They are our neighbors, friends and family, taking care of Uncle Fred who was in Korea, cousin Jim who was in Vietnam and Ted, who came back from Iraq. The federal workers, like everyone else, need their pay to be adequate so they can support themselves and their families in Dickinson County.

Hope you had a happy Labor Day and will support the federal workers who labor in our community.