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Federal pay cuts proposed to offset war costs

By Ed O'Keefe

Republican senators on Tuesday unveiled two $60 billion proposals that cut government salaries and operational costs to help pay for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and earthquake relief for Haiti.

Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) said they will not vote for the $59 billion war supplemental unless lawmakers come up with ways to offset the costs. (View copies of the proposals below.)

The first proposal would cap the number of workers at each federal agency, implement a one-year freeze on pay raises, bonuses and other salary increases for civilian federal workers, saving $2.6 billion. It also calls on the government to cancel $1.8 million in expenses for a commission reviewing the financial crisis, eliminate $68 million in foreign aid, cancel a $500 million State Department training facility planned for a Maryland community that opposes its construction and collect $3 billion in unpaid taxes from federal workers. Over 10 years the plan also would repeal the Energy Star program and cut $4.4 billion in printing and publication costs, $8 billion in bonuses for underperforming government contractors, $10 billion in nonessential government travel and $20 billion in government overhead and expenses.

The second proposal cuts congressional budgets by $100 million, orders the government to sell $15 billion worth of government property and $250 million of unneeded equipment and rescind $45 billion of unspent and uncommitted federal funding.

The proposals are unlikely to pass the Senate or earn wide support in the House, but Coburn said they demonstrate "that Congress can live within its means and pay for this bill." He and McCain are frequent critics of government spending and often introduce amendments to government spending packages to offset costs. Aides said the pair decided to introduce two separate proposals to present a series of cost-cutting options to deficit-wary colleagues.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) also floated the idea of cutting federal pay this week as part of an online contest designed to identify government spending cuts popular with Republican voters.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Coburn/McCain proposal to cut federal pay and other government spending:

Coburn Cost Cutting Amendment

Coburn/McCain proposal to cut Congressional budgets and sell unneeded government equipment:

Coburn Cost Cutting Amendment 2

By Ed O'Keefe  | May 25, 2010; 3:47 PM ET
Categories:  Congress  
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I’m struggling to put this politely while still getting my point across, so I won’t bother to mince my words:

This kind of disregard for the federal workforce has been going on for decades. Today as a result, contractor pay far-surpasses that of their government counterpart (between 20%-35%) and this is well known in the DC area (to anyone paying attention). So ask yourself this: What kind of person willingly subjects themselves to those kinds of conditions? I propose that it is not the kind that you want running your country.

Rude, but true... and stating the truth doesn’t make it any less true; it just makes it known to everyone else!

Posted by: ITSec_Guy | May 25, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: drfields | May 25, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

YEAH, why not cut their salary, I mean, OBAMA did say there is a time when you have made enough money, I think THEY ALL made enough.

Posted by: ppasco3 | May 25, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

That the GOP would rather hamstring the federal government and cut salaries/bonuses for workers who already earn less than they could in private industry, just to avoid raising taxes on corporations, closing tax loopholes, and raising income taxes on high wage earners (even back to where they were under Reagan) is nothing less than disgusting. But what should we expect from the tea party, er, I mean GOP.

Posted by: benjygrumbles1 | May 25, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

As usual the folks who do not like the government are putting the workers on the sh*t list.

Posted by: fredmlaw | May 25, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

You ask a fair and honest question, PPASCO3... and once again I find myself struggling to come up with a candy-coated response ;). I don’t think that we should be worried about how much contractors make, rather; I believe we should be MUCH more worried about why the government has for so long fostered an environment in which this is perfectly acceptable to the government workforce! What’s worse is that it has created a divisive “Us versus Them” environment.

President Obama has enacted an initiative that he hopes will help to close the gap between the contractor and government workforces. What he failed to account for, however, is that contractors when faced with a level playing field will just take their toys (aka “skill-sets”) and go home (aka “the private sector”) because they have that option (where as those who were willing to work for up to 35% less typically do not).

At the end of the day, the government workforce will still be broken and will still (for the most part) lack the appropriate skill-levels that are so essential to meeting the challenges of tomorrow.

Again; rude... I know. Still true.

Posted by: ITSec_Guy | May 25, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I got a proposal. Get out of this stupid war, shore up our boarders and kick the s(*T out of anyone that messes with us. I don't mean a long drawn out war, just strike them with with one of those unmanned missels.

Posted by: Special_One40 | May 25, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

I got a better idea... Let's CUT OFF Cantor, Coburn and McCain's pay completely! That would save millions over the years! These PUGS want to start having funds available for two illegal wars they started 9 years ago? Pull ALL the troops home! Put them to work WITHIN our borders and QUIT wasting American tax dollars on other countries! Force Iraq to pay back the billions they abused and lost! Start with that Cantor! I hope the state of Virginia is starting to see what your truly are Cantor... a pure sheer HYPOCRIT! Vote these idiots OUT of office! Fire them NOW!

Posted by: darbyohara | May 26, 2010 7:48 AM | Report abuse

This is scary. On the one hand we have someone proposing the smallest of measures to address the bloated bureaucracy. On the other hand we have Darby, the whining bureaucrat, demanding that the US Military be used to fight against the American people.

Posted by: seraphina21 | May 26, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

This SUCKS!!! That's putting it mildly!

During the last administration people were appointted into heading government agencies, which they ran as if it were private sector. We have seen what happened to some private firms. It happened at my agency, and they blew millions of dollars on "BS"! Now federal workers have to suffer because of it.

Not only that...what about the seniors that are on a fixed income that did not get a cost of living increase this year. When is our government going to start taking care of home.

When you think about how much the cost of living has gone up, it's hard enough to live. Gas, food, clothes, electricity, gas, water, etc.....
Prices have gone up on all of these things and the public is expected to continue to live on yesterday's salary. The haves don’t care, at least not until the market drops, and they loose money. Then they become the have nots.

We could go on and on about the misleadings of our leaders over the past 12 years. We didn't get into this situation over night and its going to be a good few years before it gets fixed. We can start by fixing the problems in our own country first, before we go fixing the problems in another!!

Posted by: Kendall8269 | May 26, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

"So ask yourself this: What kind of person willingly subjects themselves to those kinds of conditions? I propose that it is not the kind that you want running your country."

ITSecguy: I'm a bit flabbergasted by your remark which does seem rather rude. Perhaps I misinterpreted it but you seem to be suggesting that a person who would willing devote themselves to a career that doesn't pay the big bucks is somehow not a good leader? As in, if I'm not the money grubbing type I'm somehow suspect? That is the oddest argument I've ever heard. That can't be what you meant...

I think that people who "subject themselves" generally knew the deal when they took it (I certainly did) accepted the terms and considered themselves lucky to be doing work that is meaningful and interesting. I do get increasingly tired of the fed-bashing; and I wonder how Congress expects us to take on increasing workloads without additional personnel (the pay caps dont' bother me - the personnel caps do, we are serious understaffed in some key areas) but I never want to turn into the kind of person that does a job only for the money...what a sad, empty life.

Posted by: vickistired | May 26, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Tax the Oil companies that were the Big Beneficiaries from the wars - especially the reason to go to War in Iraq --- and like Exxon many Oil companies paid ZERO taxes to the US.

Tax the War Profiteers like Halliburton - who also pays no taxes in the US - because they are located in a PO Box in the Cayman Islands.

End the Wars Now.

Posted by: fair001 | May 26, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Funny how you don't see them proposing to cut their OWN salaries, do you? If you want to cut money from the budget, cut out all the free healthcare and ridiculous "retirement" pay that goes to former congressmen and senators as well as their families. Eliminate some of the perks that they enjoy, such as their private jets and luxury suites. Let them start living like the rest of us and see how they like it for a change.

Posted by: dawnd470 | May 26, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Non-military spending remains virtually unchanged over the past 10 years while military spending has doubled. It has grown to the point where it now comprises roughly two-thirds of the budget. In other words, we spend twice as much on the military as all other federal programs and agencies combined. Coburn and McCain need to set aside their obvious agendas and take a hard look at the facts of Federal spending.

Posted by: dragongild | May 26, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

It is such an idiotic joke that the government is going to cut the pay of people who are generally under-paid.

Why exactly would we think that cutting the salary of MANY sub-80k salary people would remotely help the country?

Huh? How about cutting the spending of the out-of-control Wall Street groups?

Posted by: Bious | May 26, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

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