The Foreign Service Journal, May 2023

64 MAY 2023 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL RETIREE VP VOICE | BY JOHN K. NALAND AFSA NEWS Contact: Threats to Retirement Benefits Multiple showdowns between Congress and the Biden administration over federal spending and the debt ceil- ing are likely in the next 18 months. As events play out, we will probably see propos- als for draconian cuts to federal employee retirement benefits. Here is a preview of the issues at stake. Congress and the presi- dent have the power to cut retirement benefits for future federal retirees. As unfair as it may be, they also have the power to cut benefits being received by current retirees. Proposals we may see that affect federal employees include reducing the future annuity calculation. Proposals affecting both employees and retirees could include reduc- ing the government’s share of federal retiree health care premiums, lowering the rate of return of the TSP G Fund, and eliminating the annuity supplement paid to federal retirees under age 62. Proposals having an impact on current retirees could include reducing annual cost-of-living adjustments for federal pensions. AFSA, of course, opposes cuts to our earned retire- ment benefits. Because such cuts would affect all federal employees and retirees, AFSA’s advocacy is primarily through the Federal-Postal Coalition, which is made up of 30 organizations, includ- ing the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association and the large Civil Service unions. The coalition represents 2.7 million federal employees and 2.6 million federal retir- ees, with members living in every congressional district. The coalition sends letters to Congress, with AFSA as co-signer, and holds monthly meetings, with AFSA par- ticipation, to plan advocacy efforts. The good news is that it appears unlikely that signifi- cant cuts to federal employee retirement benefits would be endorsed by the current Sen- ate and signed by President Biden. But the longer-term outlook depends on the out- come of the 2024 congressio- nal and presidential elections. What can you do to protect your benefits? You can maintain your AFSA membership in retirement, so your dues help support the association’s congressio- nal advocacy efforts. You can monitor major developments as reported in AFSA’s Media Digest, digital Retirement Newsletter, and this column. And you can write to your representative and sena- tors urging them to oppose cutting the benefits that you earned over a long, challeng- ing career. n the State Department and as deputy secretary general of NATO; retired Foreign Ser- vice Officer Ken Moskowitz; and Michael Lally, currently the minister counselor for commercial affairs at the At the TRENDYAwards ceremony. FSJ Wins Trendy Award Continued from page 61 MARIAPRIMACHENKO U.S. Mission to the European Union. The design (thank you, Driven by Design) incorpo- rated artwork by Ukrainian folk artist and national icon Maria Primachenko (1909- 1997). Her fan- tastical crea- tures, like the peace dove that has become an anti-war emblem in Ukraine and elsewhere, are vivid and whimsical and, much like this award-winning edition of the Journal , offer hope for the future of Ukraine. Read (and share) the winning edition at www.afsa. org/foreign-service-journal- october2022. n