Joseph Beaudoin, president, National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association:
It was heartening a few weeks ago to hear President Obama praise federal employees for their service and patience amidst the threat of a government shutdown. It is our federal workers, he said, “who help make America all it is, by responding to the needs of our people, and keeping our country safe and secure.”
As the president and our nation’s leaders find ways to reduce the national debt, NARFE urges them to keep the importance of the federal workforce in mind and not make decisions that would weaken a federal employee’s ability to do his or her job.
To keep federal employees at the forefront, NARFE launched a campaign to Protect America’s Heartbeat. We are mobilizing thousands of active and retired federal employees to stand up and have their voices heard by Congress and the American people.
You and I know that federal workers are the ones who protect us from infectious diseases, warn us if a hurricane is coming, lead the cleanup effort in the oil-spilled Gulf, and care for our veterans. The Protect America’s Heartbeat campaign will make sure that the rest of America knows our value, too.
There is a disturbing and growing sentiment in America’s coffee shops and on our airwaves that suggests public servants are the nation’s public enemy. I’ve heard from some employees, that even though they love their jobs, they have had enough of the verbal and policy abuse and are leaving the federal workforce earlier than planned.
I fear that this abuse, which is driving some of our most experienced and skilled workers away from public service, is only in its early stages. Balancing the budget will not be easy, and along the way, federal employees and annuitants will be at risk of becoming the ‘fall guy’ in the major discretionary spending cuts that all parties agree must occur.
There are already many mean-spirited bills before Congress that penalize federal employees. Worse bills are on the way that will seriously cut back federal employee pay, annuities and retirement benefits. You only need look at House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s plan to cut $375 billion in federal workforce provisions in the next 10 years to see how extreme this debate will be.
On behalf of the 4.7 million active and retired federal employees NARFE represents — and every American who depends on the critical and quality services the federal workforce provides — we must stop this legislation. Even in the toughest fiscal situation, we cannot afford $375 billion in cuts.
Federal employees and annuitants are not part of the problem. We’re part of the solution and should be treated as such in the budget debate.
Join the fight and sign our petition to Protect America’s Heartbeat at www.ProtectAmericasHeartbeat.org.