NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Federal Workers Should Share Recession Pain

September 23, 2010

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., proposes to furlough all nonessential federal workers for two weeks next year.  Only in the nation's capital is that a radical proposal, says the Washington Examiner.

  • Twenty-four states are presently furloughing public sector workers in response to budget problems.
  • The Coffman bill also cuts the $174,000 salaries of senators and representatives by 10 percent.
  • A mere $5.5 billion in savings would result if Hoffman's measure is approved, but that's not the point.
  • As Heritage Foundation analyst Jason Richwine said during a panel discussion Tuesday on civil service overcompensation, the debate over federal salaries is really "a matter of government legitimacy."

For nearly two years, millions of private-sector workers have made often painful sacrifices because of failed federal economic policies and skyrocketing federal spending and debt.  But the opposite has been true for federal workers.

  • Starting in 2008, federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14 percent to 19 percent of the total civil service work force of 2 million.
  • During the same period, Washington added about 100,000 new jobs, while more than seven million jobs in the private sector vaporized.
  • Average compensation for federal workers is now $123,049 -- more than double the private-sector average.
  • Federal salaries have grown twice as fast as those in the private sector over the past decade, and civil servants are only one-third as likely to quit their jobs as private-sector employees.

Unfortunately, we have little reason to believe Congress will cut its pay or rein in the federal bureaucracy, says the Examiner.

  • Last week, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., fired off an angry letter to the House Democratic leadership for refusing to schedule a vote on her bill to cut congressional pay by 5 percent.
  • It's been 77 years since Congress voluntarily took a pay cut.

Source: "Federal Workers Should Share Recession Pain," Washington Examiner, September 21, 2010.


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