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Senator: GOP's attacks on federal workers 'baseless'

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

The ongoing Republican attacks on federal workers and their pay and benefits are demoralizing, baseless and based on flawed data, according to a Democratic lawmaker.

Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) -- who devotes a few minutes on the Senate floor each week to a different rank and file government worker -- last week targeted a proposal by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) to freeze federal salaries to help pay for the Senate's jobs bill, arguing many public sector employees could be making much more in the private sector.

"Nearly two million wake up each morning and go to work for the American people – for their neighbors, for their friends and family, for folks they have never met or will ever meet," Kaufman said. "They do it for substantially less pay than the same job in the private sector and with considerably more at stake. As I have said before, there are no Wall Street bonuses, and there is rarely ever recognition for hard work."

Kaufman said that Republicans and other fiscal conservatives have seized on a flawed USA Today analysis from March that suggested federal employees earn higher average salaries than private-sector workers in more than eight out of 10 occupations.

But Kaufman (rightly) noted that the analysis was both highly selective of the job categories it compares failed to take into account the older demographics of the federal workforce.

"The scapegoating and baseless attacks against federal workers only serve to demoralize those who everyday are on the front lines of confronting our national challenges," Kaufman said. "It also discourages talented young Americans from making that difficult choice whether to start a career in service to their country."

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) also recently called the proposed pay freezes "demoralizing," arguing talk of pay cuts makes it difficult for the government to recruit new workers.

Do you agree or disagree with Kaufman and Connolly?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Cabinet and Staff News: President Obama hosts a Father's Day event at the White House today (with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke in tow, among others) and focuses on fatherhood with a new mentoring initiative. A cyberthreat against Vice President Biden leads to arrest. Elena Kagan played a small role in settling a dispute between Harvard University and the military. Defense Secretary Robert Gates calls for more funding of the Afghan war. A conversation with Mary K. Wakefield, the administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration. A profile of Wendell E. Primus, top policy adviser to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Obama's TSA nominee John Pistole approved by Senate Commerce Committee, and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will vote on his nomination on Thursday. First Lady Michelle Obama is scheduled to visit the Justice Department on Wednesday.

Farmers turn to mobile slaughterhouses: The slaughtermobile -- a stainless steel industrial facility on wheels -- is catching on across the country, filling a desperate need in a burgeoning movement to bring people closer to their food.

Raising a child costs 22% more now than in 1960, report says: Child care and education expenses are "the most striking change," according to the USDA.

An unexpected result for some census takers: the wrath of irate Americans: So far, the Census Bureau has tallied 379 incidents involving assaults or threats on the nation's 635,000 census workers, more than double the 181 recorded during the 2000 census.

Navy bans Tobacco use on Its submarine fleet: The Navy's mission to “run silent, run deep” now will be carried out by sailors ordered to run undersea operations without cigarettes, cigars or pipes.

U.S. eager to replicate Afghan villagers' successful revolt against Taliban: For the first time in this phase of the conflict, ordinary Afghans in the violence-racked south have risen on their own to reclaim territory under insurgent control.

Obama, EPA to push for restoration of Superfund tax on oil, chemical companies: The agency, which rarely urges passage of specific bills, will send a letter to Congress as early as Monday calling for legislation to reimpose the tax.

Bank-closure workload leads FDIC to open 3rd satellite office: Hundreds of government employees are settling into new digs inside a nondescript office building in Schaumburg, Ill. It's the agency's third new satellite office since the beginning of the financial crisis.

Murtha's turf, after Murtha: Johnstown, Pa., a defense-contracting hub, looks at prospects without the master of the pork barrel.

Senators expect to pass proposal to end anonymous 'holds' on nominations: Sen. Claire McCaskill says she has enough votes to end the Senate's long-standing and much-criticized practice of allowing the use of anonymous holds to block nominations.

Washington-area growth collides with Obama's aim to cut office space: Agencies are adding millions of square feet of office space in the Washington area alone to meet growing work-force demands, potentially putting them at odds with White House demands to cut space.

Personnel chiefs on the hook for hiring reform: The job of making sure the hiring reform effort and the Obama administration's other personnel priorities are implemented falls to the government's chief human capital officers.

Mail sorter charged with stabbing boss at JFK: He allegedly told police he was tired of his female supervisor busting his chops and he decided he was not going to take it anymore.

Tim Haney to replace Jerry Lane as Cap Metro Area VP: In 2001 Haney was the manager of the Brentwood Processing and Distribution Center, which processed the anthrax contaminated letter addressed to Senator Tom Daschle.

U.S. envoy calls for probe into Kyrgyzstan violence: Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake said "such an investigation should be complemented by an international investigation by a credible international body."

VA still battling errors, backlog in disability claims: As of June 8, a total of 186,777 claims — 35.8 percent of total pending claims — were still unprocessed after VBA's new 125-day processing goal, according to Veterans Affairs.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | June 21, 2010; 6:40 AM ET
Categories:  Congress, Eye Opener, Workplace Issues  
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Couldn't agree more. Why don't Senators talk about lowering and freezing the pay of all Hill staffers first if we are all so overpaid. It is very demoralizing as a Fed to hear this all the time. I have a Masters and a J.D...wanna bet i would be making more in the private sector? But I really believe in what i do in the public sector and in the importance of what i do. And everyone has to remember, when the private sector was getting huge bonuses, stock options galore and all kinds of great perks, was anyone out there advocating for us Feds saying we deserve more? Nope, we got our usual 3% increase and kept plugging along. If you don't take care of me when times are good, don't expect me to be at the forefront of biting the bullet when times are bad.

Posted by: happydad3 | June 21, 2010 7:15 AM | Report abuse

If Congress and all of it's Hill folk, will take a pay cut, then I'd be willing to do so as well : )) I agree wholeheartedly with happydad3, the only bonus we get is the occassional sustained superior perfomance, and that was rare. Now, with the cut backs we've already faced, nobody even gets that award, or hardly any other award, anymore, and we put in more time in years than nearly all of Congress persons. I say we've cut back enough. It's time for our Congress men and women to take a cut!

Posted by: ksimms1 | June 21, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

If Congress and all of it's Hill folk, will take a pay cut, then I'd be willing to do so as well : )) I agree wholeheartedly with happydad3, the only bonus we get is the occassional sustained superior perfomance, and that was rare. Now, with the cut backs we've already faced, nobody even gets that award, or hardly any other award, anymore, and we put in more time in years than nearly all of Congress persons. I say we've cut back enough. It's time for our Congress men and women to take a cut! On top of that, most of us choose the federal government for the service, cause most federal employees either have degrees or are in school to get their degree. Yes, we could earn more in private sector. I met another Paralegal in a law firm who cut her hours to part time, and makes $80,000, and that's not even my full time salary!!

Posted by: ksimms1 | June 21, 2010 7:48 AM | Report abuse

I really get sick of these politicians demonizing the federal worker. I just love it when all these politicians line up election year and run for government jobs and government pay, while all the time criticizing the federal government as if it was some type of an monstrous entity. The vast majority of the federal government is composed of people just like me, average Americans who have dedicated their life to public service. These a--es need to realize that the vast majority of people like me are bound to serve under our elected officials political appointees as our "leaders", regardless of whether they are competent or incompetent. In the past few years as an observer I have been convinced that more often or not our leaders are incompetent or self serving. Americans need to start reading between the lines when these people come to us for a vote. The first flag should be when these parasites start out by criticizing government employees, when the elephant in the room is that they don't seem to have any solutions or constructive comments to solve problems regarding these issues. The only thing that these people seem to be able to do, and successfully I might add, is to criticize, criticize, criticize while not recognizing that when they get into these government positions, they too are federal workers and usually appointed at the top of the heap. If the federal worker is lacking, then they should blame themselves, because after all...most of these critics are already or running to become top federal workers that will invariably "lead" the federal workforce in pursuit of their respective agency missions. In my opinion, it is hard to do government work when the only reason that you want the job is for nothing more than to pursue personal agendas, special interests and not necessarily to serve the public interest.

Posted by: ruthella10 | June 21, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

people choose federal civilian careers as they choose military careers, police or fire department careers: it meets some needs they have including status, income, job security, phenomenal retirement benefits, idealism, etc. they are free to leave and try to join the few hundred wall streeters collecting the massive bonuses or the many thousand who have been laid off. i left very secure government employment because i was professionally unfulfilled, but did so recognizing that i would now be funding my own retirement which would commence when i had adequate resources assembled, my own health care, my own "paid" sick days and vacations, etc. at times i certainly have missed the guaranteed parts of public sector employment-more the benefits than the salary-i love seeing a direct result between my efforts and accomplishments with my compensation. i am no longer paid based on time in grade or overall seniority, my graduate degrees or anything except convincing a client of the value i can add to their enterprise.

Posted by: george32 | June 21, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

As a recently retired federal worker, I spent most of my career in an occupation where many college grads topped out at a GS-11. Toward the end things loosened up some, but I know a number of workers in other agencies with Masters Degrees who have been GS-9s for more than a decade.

What irks me is that people in the private sector who look at the benefits federal employees get (annual leave, sick leave, good health insurance, etc.) that they don't get and complain about how good we have it, when in fact these are benefits that EVERY employee in America should get - at a minimum! We are a country where the rich run the country and they bristle at giving their employees any benefits because it cuts into their bottom line. Employees used to be able to go on strike for these benefits, but the GOP has busted all the unions.

I stayed in government service for the benefits and I'm glad now that I did.

Posted by: Trakker | June 21, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Come on, be honest. Federal workers cannot complain about their pay and benefits. Freezing pay for one year would not hurt us. After 20 years in the military and another 20 years in Govt., I know how hard the Federal employee works.
That is why they hate merit pay.

Posted by: jmac4 | June 21, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

In all the years of pay raises the Congress and Senior Hill have to approve not to get a pay raise. If they don't they get a raise by just doing nothing at all. The Federal worker has to wait for the Congress to pass a pay bill to get a raise each year. Seems unfair for Congress to be able to vote to give us Feds a pay raise but we can't vote to give or not give them a pay raise. They passed this law years back so they did not have to approve a pay raise for themselves each year like they did for us Feds. Congress should not be able to approve a raise for themselves to me that seems like a vested interest and a conflict of interest. They control the money and approve their own raise too. No who do you think will get a raise each year? Plus they have to stop the automatic raise each year so if they just let it go.. Boom pay raise happens. Now that is a sweet deal. As for the private sector sure is funny when they were all getting great pay and bonuses they were happy as clams no that we have recession, high unemployment and conservatives they all want to stop the Feds from getting any raises at all to pay for other programs. Feds have worked for much less money always do more for less and asked to always give up more for our country and we do this because we believe if what we do for the public. Congress and the Hill staffers need to all go under Social Security 100% like the Feds. Congress and the Hill staffers all need to give up all the perks they get paid for by our tax dollars. No retirement unless you send 20+ years in office done under the same formula as the Feds 401k plan called FERS. No special medical plans only plans offered to Feds. Make it fair across the board. Then it becomes a service to the public for the Congress and Hill staffers. They all should have to compete under the NSPS rating system like the Feds or the GS rating system like the Feds. Live it, feel it and love it. Do I think this will happen... Not likely... remember they control everything and it's not likely they will take away their nice life they have to approve their own benefits and raises.

Posted by: Concerned5 | June 21, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

If John Thune wants to cut Federal Government, then perhaps all the Feds in his State should be the first to go. Too bad if the fire season up there is terrible this year - no Department of Interior or Forest Service personnel will be available to put them out. And if we have to shut down all the National Parks in SD, including Mount Rushmore - too bad.

Thune should sit down and be quiet. Agriculture is a big part of S.D.'s State income - farm loans, conservation payments, technical assistance all come from the Department of Agriculture. Of course, there probably wouldn't be much agriculture without all those nice dams built by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation. Tourism associated with DOI's National Parks plays a part in S.D.'s income. And 10% of their State income is the result of an air force base.

Posted by: GroovisMaximus61 | June 21, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

"...arguing many public sector employees could be making much more in the private sector."

We'll soon find out if this is true since the taxpaying private sector is still contracting and municipalities across the country are insolvent and flirting with bankruptcy.

Posted by: millionea81 | June 21, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

The parties are playing budget games like they do every year. The only way the federal pay will be froze is if the Democrats allow it.

Posted by: jdg2 | June 21, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I hate republicans.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | June 21, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Good grief! Members of Congress who routinely move on to very high-paying lobbying jobs so that the private sector can exploit their contacts on the Hill complaining about federal workers' salaries. More mind-numbing hypocrisy from the crowd that truly does have their snouts in the trough.

Posted by: nc1123 | June 21, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

The present day GOP, like its predecessors, has never really had any affection for the people who do the daily work of government. Those who pontificate and pass laws seem to think that they will be enacted by some force above nature and that anyone "working for the government" is just a leech. Those same people would use contractors and consultants to do that same work, if they could find a way, because those firms pay back in donations and with in-kind support in a way that the federal worker doesn't. The GOP would give huge breaks to the rich and powerful, but not to those who do their bidding on a daily basis. Their rhetoric is not lost on the ears of the offended, to be sure, and election results will show that memory to be intact and promoting a better way forward than any path under the control of the GOP or their far-right children in the Tea Party.

Posted by: ronjeske | June 21, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

The present day GOP, like its predecessors, has never really had any affection for the people who do the daily work of government. Those who pontificate and pass laws seem to think that they will be enacted by some force above nature and that anyone "working for the government" is just a leech. Those same people would use contractors and consultants to do that same work, if they could find a way, because those firms pay back in donations and with in-kind support in a way that the federal worker doesn't. The GOP would give huge breaks to the rich and powerful, but not to those who do their bidding on a daily basis. Their rhetoric is not lost on the ears of the offended, to be sure, and election results will show that memory to be intact and promoting a better way forward than any path under the control of the GOP or their far-right children in the Tea Party.

Posted by: ronjeske | June 21, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

It's so easy for the Rs to use federal employees as whipping posts. After all, we as individuals are prohibited by our employer from openly protesting or campaigning against them.

Yes, unemployment is high and the economy is bad. However, it's not as if the entire public sector has taken pay cuts. There are plenty of private sector employees and corporations still making profits and receiving raises. The Republicans are proposing to tie the salaries of all federal workers to the salaries of the minority of US workers who are suffering. But the Rs don't have a problem with huge bonuses to financial industry employees and executives.

The private sector can increase hiring, and give raises and bonuses as soon as the economy improves. If pay for federal employees is cut, however, it would take, let's see.... an act of Congress to raise them back to the previous level. So at best, there would be a lag of several years before federal workers could begin to "catch up" with their peers outside the government.

Doctoral level science and technical people in the government are a tremendous bargain.

Posted by: thingsfallapart | June 21, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

The amount of money Federal pay cuts/freezes would generate would have a minimal impact on deficits. No, that's not what this is about. Indeed, it's about creating a disincentive for people considering employment in government and thereby impinging on the ability of Federal agencies to do their jobs well. If Republicans can't defeat legislation that seeks to regulate any number of activities that benefit and protect Americans, then they will seek to reduce the workforce that is needed to enforce the laws and regs.

Posted by: annwalsh40 | June 21, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Maybe the congressmen should quit voting themselves pay raises.They can vote themselves an $18,000 pay raise,and not see a problem with that.Some citizens in this country don't make as much as their pay raises.People look at it and say don't vote for democrats or don't vote for republicans.I don't see a difference.Neither party does anything to help the average American.They all waste our money.Wouldn't it be nice to get rid of all of them and start over and do the right thing.

Posted by: donniesears2000 | June 21, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Peter Orszag defends federal salaries
The Obama administration's top bean counter defended federal salaries Tuesday, saying comparisons between private and public sector paychecks are "misleading."

President Obama and OMB Director Peter Orszag photographed in February. (Bloomberg)"The federal workforce is more highly educated than the private workforce," Office of Management and Budget Director Peter R. Orszag told the Government Executive Leadership Briefing. "Roughly a third of the private workforce has a college degree, for example, [while] well over 50 percent of the federal workforce [does]."

Federal workers also have been on the job longer, and "as people gain more experience, pay tends to increase," Orszag said, according to Government Executive

Posted by: EPACareerEmployee | June 21, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Since when do federal workers listen to Republicans?

Posted by: seraphina21 | June 21, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

This continued attack by the Republicans on the Federal workforce shows once again they have absolutely no idea how the Government works.

Freezing Federal salaries will save some money, but at the expense of people they believe make way too much money. The Federal pay scale is very similar to the Military pay scale, both of which I have experienced. The most money goes to those in the upper echelon of the Federal workforce - the Senior Executive Service.

A level V SES makes $145,700 and a level I SES makes $199,700 a year. 99.5% of all SES positions are in D.C. They work in big cizy offices.

The current salary (2010) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year. Their leadership makes $193,000 a year.

A GS-8 (halfway up the Federal grade chart which goes to GS-15 Step 1 which is one step below SES) makes $37,631. Yeah, let's chop this guys salary and spare all those poor SES, Representatives, and Senators.

Congress did not vote themselves a pay raise this year because they were shamed into it by Obama freezing the salaries of those who work in White House. If he hadn't done that, they would have voted themselves a raise, just as they have done just about every year.

H.R. 201 was presented to the Congress a while back. It would provide that no automatic pay adjustment for Members of Congress shall be made in the year following a fiscal year in which there is a Federal budget deficit.
- If you don't balance your budget; if you don't stop spending money you don't have, then you don't get no stinkin raise this year!

Wonder if that got passed? I love it!

If they had voted themselves a raise, these Republicans would be even bigger hypocrites than they are now.

Posted by: cgteddy911 | June 21, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Re: USA Today's flawed comparison.

MOST federal workers work in high-income, high expense major cities. As I recall, the USA Today analysis compared VA nurses with private sector nurses, concluding the private nurses made substantially less. While that may be true in very small cities and in rural areas, it is NOT true in big, urban areas where most Americans now live and work. I live in the Chicago area and know of at least a dozen nurses (friends, relatives, spouses of coworkers, etc.) that work for private hospitals. ALL make more than $100,000 per year. By this measure, the VA nurses are underpaid in the Chicago area according to USA Today. Furthermore, I'm sure the same is likely to be true in the Washington area, New York, LA, Boston etc. It is probably even true in many smaller cities. For instance, the only private sector nurse I know in the Milwaukee-Racine area also makes more than $100K per year, and that smaller city is economically stressed and losing population.

Ed, as a former journalist now working in community affairs for the G, I smell a good story here. Please look into this for we beleaguered feds. These days, like the VA nurses, most federal workers are college-educated specialists. And, as I said earlier, most Americans now live in urban areas, most of which are expensive to live in and where incomes are higher because of both high living expenses and intense competition for good workers and specialists. If a comparison were to be fair, an analyst would have to compare federal urban salaries with private urban salaries and do the same for less populated and lower income areas.

Posted by: emjoyce | June 21, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

What planet is Gerry Connolly from? The national unemployment rate (made up of mostly private sector job losses no less) is near 10% and most private sector workers that I know have not had raises in close to two years. Yes, it is demoralizing, but it beats losing your job. Why should the fed workers, who are very well paid to begin with and have great benefits and job security, be treated any differently? This is another act of desperation on Connolly's part to salvage his reelection campaign, which takes water on daily. Connolly talks about attacking the deficit and then wants to give govt. employees raises. How does that work? Good news for Gerry though, when he loses his job Nov 2, to Keith Fimian, I am sure his buddies at SAIC will welcome him with open arms and give him his six figure part time job back. Shame on you Fairfax County Democrats for even letting this incompetent socialist run for reelection, but as Forrest Gump says, Stupid is Stupid Does!

Posted by: fairfaxgoper | June 21, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: NANCYSYPOLT | June 21, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

OK all you anti-government loons. How about you start with proposing that ALL Federal employees take a pay freeze -- starting with soldiers and sailors? If who you work for makes you a villain, then all federal employees are villains because they have chosen public service. DMV = DOD.

Posted by: audritsh | June 21, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Why is it anti-government to ask federal workers to live by the same pay standards as private sectors do? My dad worked for the feds for 22 years and I am very proud of that, he was very well paid, but for his experience level, would have been better off financially at a private company, but he wanted to serve his country and I respect him for that. Now, since he retired, federal pay levels are higher than ever and that is great. I would be in favor of raises if the liberals who run congress had not doubled the deficit, when does that end? Private sector employers are not giving raises so they can stay in business. Govt needs to do the same When a private company runs out of money, it is not as simple as crying to congress and getting more money. if the feds operated like a real business, half of the federal govt would be closed tomorrow. Oh, and yes, I do think that soldiers who are risking their lives every day around the world should be get more money, but not raises. If you are in a war zone, you should be automatically qualify for a pay bonus every week you are there. The desk generals and admirals who never set foot outside of washington should not be treated the same as our young men and women who are risking their lives for us.

Posted by: fairfaxgoper | June 21, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

How about we attack the deficit by reducing to 1 representative from each state in the House? How about we reduce the number of SES by 50%? How about we bring all of our soldiers home who have no business in foreign lands except to keep the military industrial complex in the black? How about getting taxes from the overly rich Big Oil such as EXXON who paid 0 in taxes last year, but made 43 Billion in profit?

Posted by: mykelbarber | June 21, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

If the R's were actually wanting to help cut the budget constructively this proposal would as some have pointed out have called for an across the board freeze in pay of all Congressional Staff (left out of earlier freezes) the Military and Federal employees. But being the A %$#@ s they are they only seek to freeze Federal Employee pay. It is more of their typical anti-government bashing. I am sick of their obviously flawed thinking. Government is NOT the problem as Reagan claimed it in fact MUST be part of the solution. We as a nation must stop this crazy anti government campaign seeking to demonize anything government related. Corporations are not the saints the R's seek to glorify them as. Citizens not corporations are entitled to vote. Citizens not corporations have a right of free speech. Owners and shareholders as citizens have a right to free speech, but no right to spend corporate money for such speech (lobbying etc) until the corporations have paid tax on that money, paid capital gains, income taxes etc and it is then in the owner, shareholders accounts. Then the owner or shareholder can do what they want with the money as long as it is allowed by law.

Posted by: LeaveMeAlone2 | June 21, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

"Citizens not corporations have a right of free speech"
Man, that is sort of a scary statement, last time I checked citizens make up most corporations. Power to the People!

Posted by: fairfaxgoper | June 21, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Only issue is that right now, there are NO JOBS in the public sector....or did the Senator forget that little factoid?

I'll grant that he's correct that some positions would pay more in the public sector than the private, but in way too many cases that is just simply not true.

And at this point, it doesn't matter...our government needs to reduce spending money it has to borrow from China......and those in the government job pool should feel some of the pain the rest of us who were blessed enough to still be employed have felt....salary freezes, loss of overtime, loss of work hours, bonuses...etc. Share the pain..........

Posted by: LMW6 | June 21, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

To fairfaxgoper: Liberals doubled the deficit???

Don't you recall that Bill Clinton left us with a surplus when he left office and GWB took over? And guess what Bush did? He gave that surplus away to the wealthy - you know, the same people who crashed our economy and fouled our Gulf! Then he invaded Afghanistan and Iraq but put the cost of those wars on Uncle Sam's credit card - to be paid "later" (i.e., NOW).

How dare you now point your finger of blame at liberals for the sins of the Republicans - and then want to freeze the pay of federal employees who had nothing to do with frittering away the surplus!

Posted by: Trakker | June 21, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

My only problem with this argument is that I know plenty of extremely competent people with advanced degrees that can't get a sniff of a job with the federal government. I also know many more young people with advanced degrees employed with the federal government that are bored senseless by the utter lack of challenge that their job poses (compared to what they have been trained to do)--it doesn't take a rocket scientist to do what all too often turns out to be shuffling paper. They won't leave for positions where their talents can potentially be put to a more productive use because of the security that comes with a federal job.

It seems that in a situation where supply far outstrips demand, the cost of labor should be dropping. If federal workers are unhappy with the compensation they receive for serving (well) their country, then they should look for more gratifying engagement... it is not as if there is a shortage of dedicated, qualified individuals who would be more than willing to step in for lower wages and fewer benefits. Once the federal government begins to run into trouble with recruitment then we can start talking about how underpaid/undervalued federal workers are. Anyone can claim to be undervalued... in fact, just about everyone that works thinks they are undervalued.

(If I had a dollar for every professor I heard whine about how little they make compared to others in the private sector... Professors are at least working in a labor market... which is also overstocked with talented individuals so they at least are complaining about their market value and have some notion of just how replaceable they are... though only a very vague notion at that.)

That said, going after federal workers to solve America's fiscal problems is akin to complaining about the color of the band-aid that you are about to put on a hemorrhaging artery...

Posted by: orgbluspider | June 21, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

When in la-la land it must be the water for a representative to LIE to the people to gain votes in his or her re-election attempts.

When state and federal workers are the only ones SEEING JOB INCREASES. When there is wholesale theft in office, and these same government workers HAVE JOBS FOR LIFE. Why should they be the HIGHEST PAID workers in America.

I have not problem paying ON DUTY firemen and policemen more money for being in harms way. I balk at the RIMF that sits in the office or on the phone or does nothing all day.

How does Pelosi get off on having to spent 19,000 dollars per month on an OFFICE in SF. And use military aircraft to fly her back and forth to California.

You have Obama having daily or bi-daily parties in the White House.

We had him on a photo op on fathers day, he is going to invite some openly Gay rights folks over today or tomorrow.

These NUTBALLS in DC have to realize that someone has to pay for these raises, these state and federal job increases.

Think about it.. What does the government PRODUCE. What benefit do they provide the the general population, to the tax payer.

Currently if you want a GREAT PAYING job you either go into the MEDICAL FIELD or into GOVERNMENT.

There is not squat out there.

These punks have to go. Anyone that is voting for the Healtcare Bill, the stimulus, pay increases for anyone except our military... ALL MUST GO.

We have to IMPEACH OBAMA... just to save America. he is the worst case of affirmative action in our history.

Posted by: miller515501 | June 21, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

The democratic senators are simply wrong for many reasons. The most important is that performing government work should be considered a service to ones country, and it comes with some very nice pension perks that very few in the private sector come close too. Lower pay for greater security is something that government employees should expect. The second issue is also what is wrong with allowing government unions. The democratic senators know and understand that there is a voting block of federal employees and want to make sure that they and the democratic party stay on the good side of 2 million potential voters. What other industry in the world do the workers have the ability to get rid of the people who decide their pay? Lastly, the federal government is running huge deficits, not small deficits, huge deficits. Any company that is in the red by that much would freeze salaries, and in many cases cut the salaries as well. It is not too much to expect at a time when Government should be reprioritizing their spending that Government works should expect to not get a raise.

Posted by: daveo2324 | June 21, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Why are we even wasting our breath on these republikkkans? We all should just be glad that they are showing their true colors as of the last presidential election. Abraham Lincoln is rolling in his grave at these clowns talking out both sides of their mouths and doing the things they are. Never voting republikkkan again-somewhere along the way since President Eisenhower the political parties in the USA flipped in values/brains.

Posted by: Sharon_6441 | June 21, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

I think it is abhorrent that anyone in Congress can talk of pay freezes or cuts without putting themselves on the block first.I understand as a public but not federal employee that we do this work not for money but for various other reasons and internal needs- Thank you teachers! A freeze on pay could in fact be considered- the second year of a pay cut for Congress! And, I believe the same is true for any other administrator unit working for the public. The further from the actual people these positions are the more money they take, the less they get first hand information and the fewer results can be found from the time and cost they put in! And of course we all know what runs downhill and it is the shafted employee at the bottom who gets to clean it up. The same holds true at a federal level, city level, state level, educational district level and so on. Just why is it the the higher admins see no problem with their own raises but always want to cut the rest.

Posted by: nhoscar | June 21, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

"Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) -- who devotes a few minutes on the Senate floor each week to a different rank and file government worker -- last week targeted a proposal by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) to freeze federal salaries to help pay for the Senate's jobs bill, arguing many public sector employees could be making much more in the private sector."
Good. Let them do so. Better for them and better for the economy.

Posted by: CincinnatiRIck | June 21, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

The Federal employees going to work at salaries that DO exceed the average pay for similar jobs in the private sector are unfairly maligned. Think of their guilt over having indexed pensions that none of the rest of us have. These people are the ones that are responsible for denying about 40% of Social Security Disability Income Benefit (SSDIB) claims. Thanks to them, there is a whole industry full of lawyers and their support staff that earn 100% of their living successfully appealing denied claims. This cost is in part borne by private industry.

Think of all the illegal immigrants that make up the gardiners so many Americans couldn't afford if the federal government wasn't turning a blind eye to our southern border while overseeing long lines of people coming across the Canadian border with their families, and in many cases preventing the transport -- along international borders -- Montreal smoked meat, one of the deadliest forms of agricultural terrorism ever conceived.

How else could we be livid with BP, were it not for the MMS doing a totally inept job. Federal employees who manage to work until retirement in the employ of the federal government give the rest of us an opportunity to feel good about the way we take care of them. Thank God for Ted Kaufman.

Posted by: buggerianpaisley1 | June 21, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

I remember when I worked at Edwards AFB and they would bring in these wet behind the ears engineers out to work. They'd get hired they try to find an apartment on their GS-7 salary to start. And rents were going for $1000/month. Where the gang bangers were.

I'd love to stick a few Senators in those places, then the car registration, utilities, food, gas, the usual stuff.

Posted by: dhssresearcher | June 21, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

I was finding it difficult to read Sen. Kaufman's comments thru the tears that were welling up in my eyes. Those poor underpaid, overworked federal government workers who are interested in nothing more than going to work "for the American people – for their neighbors, for their friends and family, for folks they have never met or will ever meet". And when I’m told that they do all this at such a staggering financial sacrifice, I was deeply moved. I'm reminded of similarly dedicated professionals in my local school district who do it all "for the children". What would we do without them? Of course, we could send them back to the private sector where I reside and they might be surprised to find that employees there can actually lose their jobs because unlike the federal government, the private sector sometimes runs out of money. Besides losing their jobs, they would be aghast to discover that not all companies provide tenure or employment protection or automatic cost of living increases or fully paid or even partially paid health care benefits or paid vacations or pensions or any of those other goodies that make government employment barely tolerable. I’d be glad to change places. Just tell me where to show up.

Posted by: genanna | June 21, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Fiscal conservatives always seem to ignore the obvious; the bloated defense department budget. We have over 700 bases in hundreds of countries. We overpay contractors like
Halliburton, Blackwater, etc, by hundreds of miilions, if not billions. This is the most likely reason that the American empire will fall, not because a few government workers make a living wage.

Posted by: RuEb10 | June 21, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

"arguing many public sector employees could be making much more in the private sector."

If they could be, they would be.

I joined the workforce in 1970 and Government (state, local or federal) has always been the holy grail of jobseekers.

Posted by: deadmanwalking | June 21, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Dear Sen. Kaufman,

Tell those federal employees to go find a job in the private sector right now that will pay them more. Are you serious? In ther real world, many private sector employees have had their pay frozen for going on three years. As usual, you are completely out of touch with "Real America" sir! The only employees getting outrageous benefits and pay raises in the country today, are the ones being paid by the tax payers. It is fiscal insanity. Teacher, police, government workers. Contracted pay raises. Why? Because they can. We in the private sector have no guarantees, and we are certinaly paying a larger and larger portion of our own healthcare annually, with NO pay raise. Climb back under the rock you came out from and pander for votes there.

Posted by: RedGreen | June 21, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

The largest unfunded liability in the nation is Federal Pensions and their health care (99 trillion dollars) Dallas Federal Reserve May25,2009. Medicare is 92 trillion and Soc. Sec. is 17.5 trillion. The president of the Atlanta Federal reserve calls it "The central issue of our time" We must stop the bleeding.

Posted by: bocatty | June 21, 2010 11:50 PM | Report abuse

Interesting...comments are mostly whinny.


Posted by: cgteddy911 says..
"A GS-8 (halfway up the Federal grade chart which goes to GS-15 Step 1 which is one step below SES) makes $37,631. Yeah, let's chop this guys salary and spare all those poor SES, Representatives, and Senators."

Yet if I look at the 2010 GS schedule for DC, a GS08 step 1 is paid $46,745; a step 10 is $60,765.

From a CBO study:

In December 2005, General Schedule employees received average total pay of about $63,000, which comprised scheduled annual basic pay ($56,000), a locality payment ($8,000), and some additional payments." (Note: Many employees get performance awards.) Based on raises since then, average total pay should be somewhere in the neighborhood of $70,000. (There is a website that claims the average pay in 2010 is $79,197, but I can't confirm that to my satisfaction.)

As of 2009, there were 857,275 federal employees in grades GS9-GS15, while 445,749 federal employees were in grades GS1-GS8.

There are more GS-12's than any other grade. GS-12s (in DC) start at $74872, and end at $97333. And if a GS-12 step 10 gets a bonus, they may hit six figures.

For those with master's degrees...I take it you didn't get it in engineering, math, or finance. Public admin, social work, and poly sci are not fields that are in demand. Degrees are meaningless pieces of paper for the most part. There have been studies performed by the private sector where they found that folks with bachelor degrees in business performed just as well as those with MBA's. And another analysis showed that teachers with just a bachelors degree performed just as well as those with masters degrees. In other words, more degrees does not guarantee better performance or ensure more pay. And some private sector companies have figured this out and are no longer paying a premium for advanced degree, unless its in a hard science. (BTW, I happen to have a masters degree.)

Note most that government workers in Europe are taking cuts or getting no raises.

And finally, in case you don't understand, you don't have to stay with the federal government, you are allowed to seek employment elsewhere. So if you're unhappy with your job or pay, then update your resume and get out there and get another job.

Posted by: eeterrific | June 22, 2010 1:38 AM | Report abuse

If government pay and service is so good, why isn't there a huge line of applicants for jobs? I don't see lines of unemployed lawyers lining up for government jobs.

Posted by: northdakota | June 22, 2010 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Maybe you use job lines in North Dakota, but in the real America people apply electronically.

Posted by: seraphina21 | June 22, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

We have a defense budget that is trillions over-budget while making billions of un-needed (and unused) weapons that will never even slightly be used

Yet we are worried about a few million of hard-working salaries

Brilliant logic

Posted by: Bious | June 22, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Who do you think is running the defense budget? The mice under the world's largest office building?

Posted by: seraphina21 | June 22, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I hate republicans.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | June 21, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

So what agency is lining YOUR pockets?

Govt workers at all levels of govt are spoiled. People at "regular" jobs, don't get full salary for life - especially after as little as 20 years. Double dipping.

There is NO excuse for unions in govt work. Unions initially existed for the purpose of protecting employees from the big bad abusive company. The Govt is SUPPOSED to treat people fairly - and a major part of being treated fairly is MERIT pay.

There are several teachers in the family - and it makes me groan when she tells me how attending a seminar for a couple hours is going to bump up her pay. Superintendents and teachers making over 70k to 170k while pulling in another $100k in PENSION? (and this is not in NY, DC, or CA, but where avg salaries are more like 40-60k, and jobs have been disappearing either overseas or to H1B's).

Posted by: Justice26 | June 23, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Sharon_6441 - you sound like an idiot. There - I criticized your comment (KKK?) therefore I must be RACIST and worthy of a smear?

So fiscal responsibility is racist (and anti- Catholic?)? Based on that logic you are saying being black makes you automatically a fiscally irresponsible leach with your hand out? Because according to YOUR "logic" responsibility is racist and therefore white?
(and of course black, African American, Asian American fiscal conservatives are all Uncle Toms?)

How damning this bs is to the rights and attitudes towards minorities? Thanks we don't need your HATE speech encouraging racism.

Posted by: Justice26 | June 23, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

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