Not 1 cent in tax increases for the rich, but GOP seeks to slash benefits for disabled workers

Posted on November 10, 2011

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Republicans on Capitol Hill are looking to cut benefits for federal workers disabled on the job, a budget-trimming move that critics warn could leave many injured civil servants and their families without enough to live on in retirement.

With support from senators Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs moved forward Wednesday with a Postal Service reform bill that would apply broad workers’ compensation reforms to all federal workers. Many disabled federal employees who have reached retirement age currently receive between 66 and 75 percent of the salary they had at the time of their injury, but the bill pushed by Lieberman and Collins would cut that to 50 percent.

Some employees who aren’t at retirement age would also lose benefits they receive for children or other dependents they care for. Ron Watson, a workers’ comp expert at the National Association of Letter Carriers, says the reductions are “intentionally targeted at injured workers with families, their widows and widowers, and the elderly.”

But in a Senate hearing Wednesday, Collins suggested the cuts were targeted at “nonagenarians” (people in their 90s) who are bleeding the workers’ comp system, citing federal workers who are “99-years-old” and still collecting a substantial portion of their salaries from old workplace injuries. She also said the White House has shown support for many of the proposed reforms.

“These are not draconian changes,” Collins said of the bill. “We’ve worked very hard to come up with a fair approach. This involves substantial money.”

To me, this begs the immediate question: How many of these 90-year-olds’ benefits have to be cut to equal one $400 Million golden parachute for a 40-something executive who resigned after driving his company into the ground?

The median benefit being targeted here is $52,657 per year. So, to maintain just one bonus for the “best and brightest,” you have to slash the benefits from 7,596 disabled retirees who EARNED them after years of public/civil service.

Isn’t it interesting how much of a disparity there is in Washington when it comes to deciding between “executive compensation” and “worker compensation”? The core premise around workers comp is that you should be no better off and no worse off after the injury than you were before. But with this bill many people will be far worse off, particularly on the lower end of the wage scale.

This is nothing more than punishment for having been injured. Republicans are saying, “Don’t be involved in any serious accidents, because you’re going to go home and make a lot less money.”  Because we all know exactly when, where, why and how an accident is going to happen.

It’s no accident that the rich-pandering Republicans in Washington are trying, once again, to screw the working class.

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