News coverage today is dominated by the death of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president and an instrumental player in helping that country abolish apartheid. The New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal all have coverage.
Joe Davidson has a piece in the Washington Post about the political posturing already surrounding the new budget bills in Congress, which he argues could have serious repercussions for federal employees. He reports that two Republican congressmen have proposed increasing the share federal employees pay towards their retirement programs from 0.8% to 2%, while switching to a slower-rising inflation formula called the chained-CPI for the calculation of retirement benefits. The Wall Street Journal adds that Democrats and several prominent unions are already lining up to oppose this measure, which they view as “unacceptable” for requiring federal employees to pay 5.5% more for their retirement.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the American Federation of Teachers has promised to appeal the Detroit bankruptcy ruling. The union is concerned that the bankruptcy decision will place pension rights in jeopardy and will only add to the retirement insecurity faced by many workers.
In international news, the Wall Street Journal reports that the French unemployment rate has reached 10.9%, its highest level since 1998. The new numbers come as a blow to President Hollande, who has made reducing unemployment one of signature issues. The article suggests that because overall economic growth in France is slow, many French companies are pressing ahead with job cuts and restructuring plans.