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Westchester, NY Merged Branch 693 National Association of Letter Carriers
LEGISLATION & POLITICS

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 CURRENT  LEGISLATION
 
HR 594 (House) and S349 (Senate) both support a modification of the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provisions for CSRS annuitants.  HR 594 currently has 252 co-sponsors, however Congresswomen Sue Kelly and Nita Lowey have NOT signed on board.  On the Senate version, S349 neither Senators Schumer nor Clinton have added their names to the 21 co-sponsors at present.  Give them a call!
 
Legislation has been introduced to permit federal annuitants, military retirees, and active duty personnel to pay their share of FEHBP health benefits with pre-taxed dollars.  In other words, whatever the total cost of HB premiums, that amount would be deductable from the adjusted gross income when filing federal tax returns.
 
This legislation obviously is one of great benefit to our membership.  All members should see if their respective legislators have co-sponsored the following bills:
 
HR 1231 (Tom Davis R-VA)
S.623 (Senator John Warner R-VA)
 
Members can find the position of their respective legislators on the Thomas.gov website listed under "USEFUL SITES" on this site.  See if your representative is a co-sponsor.  HR 1231 now has 289 co-sponsors.  If not, contact him/her and ask that they support the bills.  It's money in our pocket!
 

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Important message from President Bill Young
 
As part of the NALC's grass roots lobbying program, President Bill Young has inititated a program to involve as many members as possible through e-mail addresses.
 
In order to be at the ready when legislative action becomes necessary, and we expect that to be very soon, the NALC is collecting e-mail addresses from members to be placed into a data base in Washington.  When the time comes to get out an important message, the news will be electronically transmitted from our headquarters to our membership.
 
The NALC assures all that the names/addresses will not be sold or given to any outside party. 
 
Get in on the legislative battlefront.  Fight to keep our benefits!

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TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2003  ELECTION DAY
 
The Board of Elections must have your registration form by Friday, October 10, 2003 in order to be eligible to vote in NY State.  To register, click on the "VOTE" button (below on this page).
 
Target Congressional Adjournment Date - October 3, 2002
 

DON'T KNOW WHO

YOUR CONGRESSPERSON  IS?

USE  YOUR  ZIPCODE!

PUSH  THE  BUTTON

 

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Important new legislation has been introduced in Congress.  HR 594 stands to appeal both the WEP and the GPO.  There are currently 109 co-sponsors.  The bill has not been posted on the Federal Register yet, so the names of the co-sponsors are unavailable at present.
 
In the Senate, a companion bill, S349 has 9 co-sponsors at present.  NO NY SENATOR IS ON BOARD AS YET.  WRITE THEM.  Also in the Senate, S363 would give us GPO reform.  So far, Hillary Clinton is on board, however Chuck Schumer is not.  WRITE TO HIM FOR SUPPORT.
 
Legislation to increase the government's share of FEHBP premiums from 72% of the weighted average, to 80%.  The House version is HR577.  Only Congressmen McHugh, Hinchey and Israel have co-sponsored this bill.  The Senate version is S319, with NO NY SUPPORT TO DATE.
 
Becomea legislative activist.  Make a call.....write a letter.  Help yourself!!!  Send your e-mail address to the Branch so that we may contact you with urgent legislative needs as they occur.
 
 

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Retired feds stand to lose if 'Windfall' or 'Offset' is intact

Mike Causey

 Current and future federal retirees will lose tens of millions of dollars over the next decade unless Congress votes to modify or repeal two little-known but hard-hitting formulas used to reduce their Social Security benefits.

 The offending if you're a fed formulas are called "Windfall" and "Offset."
  But the problem is the enormous cost of either modification or repeal. If either happened, Social Security would have to pay benefits now reduced or eliminated by the two formulas.

"We have a majority of the minority party [Democrats] on our side, but a minority of the majority party [Republicans] on our side," says a lobbyist for active and retired feds.
"That's why its been impossible to get any of the bills past the hearing stage within the powerful House Ways and Means Committee."

Windfall reduces any Social Security benefit earned by retired public employees who didn't work under, and pay into, Social Security for at least 30 years. Most of the feds who have been, or will be, hit by Windfall worked in relatively low-paying jobs either before, while or after they were in government.

Without Windfall those retirees would on paper appear to be short-service and/or low-income workers that Social Security was primarily designed to help. To qualify for some kind of Social Security benefit, workers generally must have 10 years (40 quarters of service time paying into Social Security).   But once their civil service benefits are factored in, the Windfall formula can reduce their Social Security benefit as much as $270 per month.

The Offset formula hits retirees who never worked under Social Security a different way. It reduces the Social Security spousal or survivor benefit those feds had expected based on a spouse's Social Security coverage.  The Offset formula can and usually does eliminate any Social Security spousal/survivor benefit of anyone who gets even a modest government annuity, or any pension for work not covered by Social Security.

For years, groups led by the Alexandria-based National Association of Retired Federal Employees and federal and postal unions have fought for modification of the Windfall and Offset formulas. Modification would be a first but giant step toward outright repeal of the two laws.

Under the Windfall-modification proposal, the first $2,000 of monthly combined civil service-Social Security benefits would be exempt from any reduction. Combined benefits between $2,000 and $3,000 would be subject to a sliding scale Windfall formula and those over $3,000 per month would be subject to the full Windfall benefit formula.

Last year, Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, got 233 co-sponsors out of 435 House members for his Windfall-modification bill.  Offset is tougher because it hits many low-income widows. Last year, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland Democrat, introduced a bill that would exempt the first $1,200 of combined monthly benefits from the formula.

Rep. William J. Jefferson, Louisiana Democrat, proposed a similar bill but may raise the "hold harmless" level to $2,000 per month in legislation he is said to be considering.
Proposals to modify or (less likely) repeal Windfall and Offset got a shot in the arm last year when powerful teachers unions led by those in California got on the bandwagon.

The National Association of Retired Federal Employees is planning a massive legislative conference here March 15-18. One day of the conference will be devoted to sending thousands of members to see their representatives in Congress.  "Congress is swamped with letters and e-mails on all kinds of things," a NARFE official said. "We're convinced that the way to get attention is for voters to have a one-on-one with their state's senators and representatives."

Mike Causey, senior editor at FederalNewsRadio.com, can be reached at 202/895-5132 or by e-mail at mcausey@washingtontimes.com.

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PREMIUM CONVERSION IS ONE OF OUR PRIORITIES IN THE 108TH CONGRESS!
SEE ARTICLE BELOW

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PAC Money?
See how much each legislator received last year in PAC money, and who donated how much.  Click on the name of your legislator.  When the site opens, scroll down to "PAC Contributions."  This will make you understand why we need to contribute to our own COLCPE fund (Commettee on Letter Carrier's Political Education).  Note the contributions given by our competitor, United Parcel Service.  Give to COLCPE!

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CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Links to New York State House Members

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Your COLCPE Dollars in Action

 

One of the key ways for Letter Carriers to have a voice in the political process is through the Committee on Letter Carriers Political Education (COLCPE), our Political Action Committee (PAC).

 

Why COLCPE? Collective giving gets its strength the same way that collective bargaining gets its strength.  The more of us contribute together, the more powerful we are as a Political Action Committee.

 

Because Congress has the power to legislate away the USPS, our jobs and our retirement, we have no choice but to do everything in our power to elect more pro-letter carrier candidates. One of the most effective ways to do that is to contribute to their campaigns. NALC cannot use dues money for contributions.  Therefore, we must use COLCPE money.

 

Thanks to the generosity of letter carriers, and in particular, the retirees, COLCPE is one of the largest labor PACs in the country. In past elections we have been able to contribute thousands of dollars to our friends throughout the country. This provides an important counterweight to the millions of dollars that a wealthy individual or corporate PAC can contribute each election cycle.

 

In 1998, for example, the NALC was able to support 303 candidates from coast to coast. The more money we have in COLCPE, the more candidates we can support. The more candidates we support, the greater our impact and the more friends we have.  This is a very well-known and accepted way of doing business.

 

COLCPE supports formidable, pro-letter carrier candidates regardless of their party affiliation. NALC targets candidates with strong campaigns and a serious chance to win. With the help of letter carriers in each Congressional District, we are able to identify pro-letter carrier candidates who have the

 

means to win: a good campaign staff, reputable consultants, poll numbers that show they can win, and a demonstrated ability to raise money.

 

Because of our success rate, the NALC has hundred of allies in Washington. As a result, when legislation affecting the USPS or letter carriers arises, the NALC already has opened the doors of communication with our friends on Capitol Hill. That is what we need to preserve our livelihood.

 

Here's the deal ON PREMIUM CONVERSION

 

federal and postal employees can pay their health insurance premiums with pre-tax dollars;  federal and postal retirees cannot!

 

Section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code presently allows employers in the public and private sectors to permit their employees to pay for health insurance with wages excluded from both income and social security payroll taxes.

 

 

President Clinton offered "premium conversion" to current federal employees in October 2000.  Under this benefit, if a federal employee's annual share of a FEHBP premium is $1,700, then her reported gross income would be lowered by that amount for purposes of paying personal income and social security taxes.  (Note:  military retirees under TRICARE would receive the same benefit if the tax code is changed.)

 

According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the average federal worker will save about $434 a year by lowering their taxable income by the amount of an employee's health care premium.  These so-called "premium conversion plans" are available to most employees of large private-sector companies, as they are available to current federal and postal employees.

 

However, federal annuitants, that is federal military and civilian retirees, are excluded from the program since tax code authority for employers to make premium conversion benefits available to their retirees is not all that clear.  As a result, neither public nor private-sector retired employees can take advantage of this tax break.

 

NARFE says that by paying their health insurance premiums with "pre-tax" dollars, currently working feds can save about $434 per year in taxes.

 

Some say this is just "small potatoes."  We say, wait until you retire and your health insurance premium keeps rising, you'll want every tax advantage you can get.

 

What current employees may not realize is that when they retire, this nice little tax break just disappears, at a time when they will need it the most -- in retirement.