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Bill would furlough federal workers for 2 weeks

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

A Republican lawmakers wants to keep federal workers away from the office without pay for two weeks next fiscal year to help cut government costs. But unlike other cost-cutting bills introduced by the GOP, this one would also force a 10 percent pay cut for lawmakers.

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) says his bill would save the federal government more than $5.5 billion -- not nearly enough to pay off the deficit. It makes exceptions for national security, public health or safety workers (as do the other GOP proposals) but would require all other federal employees to take two weeks worth of unpaid non-consecutive furlough days.

Coffman, who won his first term in 2008, notes that at least 24 states are furloughing workers for various lengths of time and many more are also laying off public sector employees. (Gov. David Paterson (D-N.Y.) last week said he would have to lay off New York state workers by year's end.)

"The federal government continues to grow, and continues to rack up debt," Coffman said. "I would like to make the U.S. government as cost conscious as the states. My legislation is a start."

Coffman's legislation is one of several GOP proposals that seem doomed while Democrats control Congress but might advance farther if Republicans win the House and/or Senate in November. Here's a quick review of other such initiatives:

• Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) in March proposed slashing the number of political appointees from about 3,500 to 2,000.

• Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) in March wanted to fire federal workers who fail to pay their taxes. (Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) introduced something similar last week.)

• An online contest sponsored by House Republicans in May pushed the idea of freezing federal pay. (The idea later failed to win enough votes. Another bill to cut government operations costs also bombed.)

• McCain and Coburn in May wanted to cap the number of workers at federal agencies and impose a one-year freeze on bonuses and raises to offset the costs of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. (The idea died in the Senate.)

• Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) introduced a bill in June that would have the government hire only one new worker to replace every two federal retirees.

• Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) and Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller have said the GOP will shut down the government if they can't agree with Obama on future spending bills. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) has denied such plans.

Do you agree or disagree with the proposals? Do you have other ideas on how the government could save money?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

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Under a watchful eye after a tough deployment: Army officials, concerned about the aftereffects of combat, were keeping a close eye on the 5th Stryker Combat Brigade long before soldiers from the unit were charged with atrocities committed in Afghanistan.

New smog proposals from EPA draw fire: They're fueling resistance from businesses groups concerned about costs, Republicans who say it'll be a drag on the economy -- and some heartland Democrats engaged in tough election battles this fall.

FDA rules won't require labeling of genetically modified salmon: Shoppers staring at fillets in the seafood department will find it tough to pick out the conventional fish from the one created with genes from another species.

Conflict over NASA spaceflight program complicates funding: An agency that generally is funded and directed through White House and congressional consensus has become the focus of a brutal, potentially crippling and politically topsy-turvy battle for control.

Woman's car lost after police move vehicles for security near Obama speech: The ordeal of a woman whose car was moved when the president spoke to the Congressional Black Caucus.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | September 20, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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I have a great idea. Lets furlough the Senate and Congressional members for 52 weeks a year.

Posted by: bloomsgardenflowers | September 20, 2010 7:30 AM | Report abuse

At the Social Security Administration, no new workers have been hired to replace retirees for at least the last 25 years, so what's new about Rep. Lummis bill as least as it relates to agencies like SSA?

Posted by: pjmartone | September 20, 2010 7:48 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps if we charge every Congressional member a carbon emission tax for opening their mouths to issue globally idiotic policy statements - our National budget problems would be solved in a few months.

Posted by: jtv1000 | September 20, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Last Tuesday evening, another Republican Representative was on TV commenting that their goal, once they take over the House of Representatives, was to undo the hiring of Federal workers in the last two years and fire 100,000 Federal employees. The new Republicans running for office also feel that Federal employee pensions and health care benefits are too costly, too generous. Federal employees and retirees would be smart to consider voting in their best interests. These Republicans want to please their constituents by hurting Federal employees. We all read the comments. Federal employees don't do any work. Federal employees are overpaid. Blah, blah, blah...well the people who make these comments are absolutely ignorant. Anyone who works for the Federal government knows how hard the work is and how employees get their work done on a shoestring budget as it is. The furlough proposal is yet another STUPID idea from the anti-Federal employee Republicans.

Posted by: AnnsThought | September 20, 2010 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Amen, let's furlough the Senate and Congressional members and their staffs for a year or two, and get something done.

They want to save money? Then let agencies cut programs that are wasteful without Hill interference. Stop catering to special interest groups. Stop wasting time and money holding hearings on issues that don't directly impact the govenrment (ie, steroid use by professional athletes).

Posted by: Babecat | September 20, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

These repubican weasels want to balance the budget deficit, which they are responsible for, on the backs of hard-working federal employees. Now THAT would really encourage competent people to stay with or join the federal workforce. At the whim of some incompetent politicians they can hack your salary. I got a different idea, lets not pay the congressmen any money for half the year and use the savings to balance the budget.

Posted by: kschur1 | September 20, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Congress has jumped on the bandwagon: go after 'greedy Federal employees'. In the '90's when my friends were calling me foolish for working for the government and not making 'all this money' that they were in the private sector I continued my civil service. Now, these folks are out of jobs, have squandered their 'big money' and are out to end my job? Congress should cut their own wages, pay for their own benefits and end lifetime retirement for Congressional (elected) service. It wasn't the Federal Civil Service that made bad decisions regarding budgets and regulations that lead to this financial nightmare. It was our elected officials. In addition, see if Congress cuts their own staff members, Capitol service workers or Capitol Police. They will continue to ensure their own survival before that of their constituents. What has this country come to?

Posted by: USAdemocrat | September 20, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Sure, the Republicans go and send billions and trillions on their oil partners overseas just so they can fire the very people who provide American citizens the service they should be receiving from their own government. Republicans complain about fraud and government inefficiency, then refuse to put in place the necessary regulations to prevent fraud and provide the tools and resources to make government more efficient and effective (just look at how poorly they equipped our soldiers fighting their wars). Same old Republican song and dance.

Posted by: blondethoughts | September 20, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

How about H.R. 4336 – Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009 at

Politicians with skin in the game?

Jack Lohman ...

Posted by: jelohman | September 20, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

What is not reported is that while federal spending is up the actual number of federal workers is down. Contacting out the federal government was supposed to save money (according to Reagan/Bush/Cheney) --clearly has not. Perhaps we should require all those no-bid contracts to take a 20% cut--to demonstrate their patriotism.

Posted by: yatest | September 20, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Here's a thought... why not furlough the federal workers, and then pay them standard overtime (time and a half) when they have to make up the work they missed while they were out. Deal?

Posted by: floof | September 20, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

How much money does the nation save if the speaker doesn't have a personal jumbo jet?

Posted by: biffgrifftheoneandonly | September 20, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

It was discovered in the 1990s that when the US government shut down for a few days, there were two categories of federal workers: essential and non-essential.

Perhaps the government could stop hiring non-essential workers?

As for furloughs, they are mostly symbolic of a failure to achieve real permanent savings.

Posted by: JBaustian | September 20, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Babecat is 'spot on' with her comment. Congress, if they really want the Exec. Branch to save some money,must let agencies do the 'right thing' and not just what they want for the sole benefit of their constituents. Their priorities are completely out of order. Hyporcrites of the worst kind. Mark Twain was right - they are the only native criminal class in America.

Posted by: Sojouner | September 20, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

I would go for two weeks of furlough days = 10 work days of unpaid leave if and only if I could take it on day for every two week pay period to buffer the loss in income. Of course most federal employees will not like my comment and I'm a federal employee. We need to get our Budget under control and if this would drop our debt this would be a major help for all concerned. This also means cost controls need to be in effect, spending has to be within budget, pork barrel funding has to stop, Congress, Senate and Congressional staffers also have to suffer the two weeks of no paid leave. I'm for fairness so all in the Federal Government need to feel this pain not just a select few. Even safety, fire and protection people can do it with the right scheduling of manpower. Heck how about it Mr. President you can also give up your two weeks of pay along with all your staff. As for federal workers not working that is a laugh. Most days I put in one to two hours more work that I'm not paid for to get my job done. I'm not alone in this either I see the same thing all over my office. Dedicated workers who give much more than they are required to give for hourly wages that are paid. It was great during the boon time for all the non federal workers they loved it making the big bucks... now they hate it that federal workers are making money and have jobs. It's about choice and what you want from life. Sometimes it's not about making all the money to brag about but making less to make it through the lean times. You made your choice and I made mine. I elected service you elected greed. There is no right or wrong in either selection except the outcome. Don't fault me because I selected something that gave me more security in the lean time you also had that choice but went a different way. Do I think all this will happen? No because our Congress and Senate spend our money like its water with no end in sight. We need to fire them all and start new. Sure there would be problems but it just might get things under control again. America needs to learn to live within it means again. If we don't get ready for a depression like no one has seen before.

Posted by: Concerned5 | September 20, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand the GOP's hostility to people trying to serve their country. I hope they understand that being in the military is not the only way to serve their country. Further, the GOP is unserious about balancing the budget. If they weren't, they would admit that the budget cannot be balanced without addressing revenue.

Posted by: bperk420 | September 20, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Representatives need to move back to their home states and work can be done by; they also need to have their pay reduced dramatically to align with this new change and consistant with standard salaries in their area. Additionally, benefit packages need to match the private sector including HMO, PPO or the like and they should have 401K match while in office but pensions need to be eliminated! This proposal will not only reduce expenditures but will align representatives with their constituents rather than washington

Posted by: pporter4 | September 20, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Trying to set up the GS'ers for a shutdown during their expected battle with Obama after they take control. One of the reasons they lost face back in the 90's was that government employees were going to be paid during the shutdown. Better to furlough them.

Posted by: pppp1 | September 20, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Response to Annsthoughtless - every other entity that loses money, including state governments, cuts costs when they are in the red. The federal government is GROSSLY in the red.

I'm not questioning how hard you work - but your compensation package is generous, to say the least. Further, with your entitlement attitude, you are the first one I'd fire.

Posted by: skinpig | September 20, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

the GOP is serious about balancing the budget; check out

you first must address spending and that will have a positive affect on revenue. you can't get blood from a turnip; and the problem with going after the "rich" for everything is that eventually they won't have any money left to give/take. and then we will all be like everyone else without any thing to work toward but we will all be equally miserable with each other and every other country.

Posted by: pporter4 | September 20, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

The last time I heard the numbers, they were something like this:
$3.1 trillion dollar budget
$1.5 trillion dollar deficit
$700 billion in personnel costs
Almost $2 trillion in payments to individuals and states.

If you want to get the budget in balance, having the entire federal workforce (including the military) work for free and all federal and military retirees stop getting retirement checks will still leave you $800 billion short.

You need to cut where it matters: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other payments to the states. The sooner you do that the less the federal government will spend on interest.

I'm not saying that federal employee's shouldn't get a pay cut (or furlough - same thing). Just that this is more posturing and ignoring the real problem.

Posted by: will4567 | September 20, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

The LA Times reported that Los Angeles County spent $111 in stimulus funds to create 54 jobs, so about $2 million for each job created OR SAVED (sic). Nationwide, the cost per stimulus job might be even greater.

We cannot afford this level of waste - especially since I did not get one of these stimulus jobs, as I was not in a favored political class. (My shovel was ready but I was not in the Shovelers' Union, nor was I put in charge of the shovel crew.)

Instead of furloughs, I'd like to see at least three Cabinet departments disappear, with their responsibilities merged into others; that every pork-barrel spending bill be considered individually, not tacked onto must-pass legislation like a debt ceiling bill or a DoD appropriation; and non-defense non-entitlement spending should be frozen for five years, which would require getting rid of a lot of federal employees.

I also like the idea of reducing the number of executive department appointees, especially the so-called czars who apparently have responsibilities but are not confirmed by the Senate nor do they have to answer to the Senate. I don't see any constitutional authority for these offices to exist.

Posted by: JBaustian | September 20, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

There are any number of ways the federal bureaucracy can be reduced, but saving money on the backs of overworked, underpaid staff is not the way. Of course GOP congress critters are all for this. It puts the burden on the working class, like all their "ideas." You think Congressional staff is overpaid? Take a look at Many senior staffers hold advanced degrees and even the workerbees hold bachelors degrees. If you had a degree in Nuclear Engineering would you work 60-70 hours a week for $45K a year?

Posted by: vmi98mom | September 20, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

are they proposing that contractors supplementing the fed force take furloughs as well? or just pick up the projects that will be behind schedule because the feds will be forced to take time off?

(I'm in the boat with the commented who said keep Congress out of the cost-cutting - they are too concerned about keeping their jobs to make a clear informed decision about what really works. They cannot even write a clear law in plain English. It's referred to as "legistlative language".)

Posted by: anonymouslurker | September 20, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

An irresponsible proposal. Why not just do the sensible thing: a 10%, across-the-board Federal staffing reduction. And while they're at it, do the line-by-line budget examination that was promised two years ago, and eliminate programs with marginal benefit.

Posted by: SavingGrace | September 20, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Why not dump the SES Pool and send them off packing? The creation of the SES Corps was just another brilliant maneuver by the Carter Administration that is costly and inefficient. The idea was to fire them if they didn’t produce positive results. In my nearly 30 years of federal government, the best I’ve seen them do is stir up the SES pool and move them some place else to fail.

Posted by: evansbill | September 20, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

As a retired federal employee, I know there is alot of waste in govt. and something needs to be done about the bloat. Instead of crying about Congress and fretting about job security, federal employees should be writing members of Congress, suggesting where cuts should be made. If you are just sitting around waiting for your next paycheck, maybe you are part of the problem. This country is in dire straits and everyone needs to pitch in. Personally, I would be willing to give up 10% of my retirement as long as it wouldn't be pissed away in another stimulus bill or pay back for the unions.

Posted by: dcharlson | September 20, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Nickel and diming federal workers is a political stunt that won't produce much savings to the tax payer. To really have an impact on the federal deficit you'll need big properly planned budget cuts. The American public is smarter than to fall for these gimmicks.

Posted by: Cyberghost | September 20, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Mid-to high level state and county employees are paid much higher salaries (e.g. school superintendents get $300K + salaries, for what ???) than federal workers. No wonder states are running out of funds. Since state and county employees are paid from tax payer funds, their pay should be capped to the corresponding levels of the federal employees, where even the agency heads have to labor with salaries less than $200K.

Posted by: pink1951 | September 20, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

lol Their first response is always to go after the employees. Whether it's labor unions or public sector employees. "Go after the little guy!!!" How about stop buying 8 billion dollar submarines that we don't use. There is certainly waste in the government, but this "attack the federal government" crap is absurd.

Posted by: nsu1203 | September 20, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I love the posturing. The reality is that conditions between agencies vary. I work for FEMA and 5 years ago when a little storm took place in the south, we saw what happened when Federal Agencies aren't staffed and ready. I think there needs to be an agency by agency review, the seemingly unimportance of agency missions, are unimportant until the services are needed. We don't even have to go back 10 years to see how much lower the Federal pay is compared to private industry pay. Let's go back 3/4 years. Federal benefits assist in making the Federal governement somewhat competitive with the private industry when recruiting.

Posted by: lorah12 | September 20, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Wingnuts seem to think that the purpose of the government is to prop up the private sector. They think that Wall Street is what the Founding Fathers fought to create. I do believe that states have rights under the Constitiution, but this anti-Federal government crap from people whose sole purpose in life is to get elected so that they can get paid by the federal government seems bizarre. They're all dying to get to Washington, but all they do is whine about Washington.

Posted by: nsu1203 | September 20, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

lol Cutting federal jobs is great for the unemployment rate.

Posted by: nsu1203 | September 20, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

The only employee growth industry in the USA today is government paid jobs. Please check out the relative percentage of government paid employees to all others in your State. I don't think the reduction is size should be fast; but it should occur as the need to those services is reduced.

The TARP group that oversaw distribution of the TARP funds just approved the addition of 40(?) more employees (from 120 or so) because although the TARP funds have been distributed, they now want lifetime jobs to 'monitor the usage' of those funds. It'll cost we taxpayers more for their continued 'monitoring' than for the distribution of the funds.

Posted by: dahni | September 20, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

November is coming...

Posted by: snowbucks | September 20, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Wage, pension and other benefit cutbacks for civil
servants will be absolutely necessary in the future.
The private sector will not tolerate taking all of the pain. Yet another line of divisiveness opening
in our society as credit defaults and marking to
market accelerate.

Posted by: AlleninKerrville | September 20, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

But, let's also do something about greedy politicians! I received this idea:
Governors of 35 states have already filed suit against the Federal Government for imposing unlawful burdens upon them. It only takes 38 (of the 50) States to convene a Constitutional Convention.

This will take less than thirty seconds to read. If you agree, please pass it on.

An idea whose time has come!

For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that members of Congress could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest was to exempt themselves from the Healthcare Reform ... in all of its forms. Somehow, that doesn't seem logical. We do not have an elite that is above the law.

I truly don't care if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever. The self-serving must stop.
A Constitutional Convention - this is a good way to do that. It is an idea whose time has come. And, with the advent of modern communication, the process can be moved along with incredible speed. There is talk out there that the "government" doesn't care what the people think. That is irrelevant. It is incumbent on the population to address elected officials to the wrongs afflicted against the and me. Think about this...
The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971...before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones, etc.
Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land...all because of public pressure.

I'm asking each addressee to forward this Email to a minimum of twenty people on their Address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.

In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one proposal that really should be passed around.

Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution:
"Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States ."

Posted by: dahni | September 20, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Here's a better idea: Congress should stop spending money it doesn't have. Didn't it pass pay-go legislation earlier this year that it has subsequently ignored? But please, by all means, let's punish govt workers for the drunken spending of Congress. How much money would be saved if we eliminated all congressmen's discretionary budgets? What's that? If I want flowers in my office I have to pay for them myself? Booze on my flights? $50 boxes of cupcakes? This is an outrage!!!

Posted by: pswift00 | September 20, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Let's see ... furlough the average fed earning $90K a year and replace him/her with a contractor making $150K a year. Brilliant! No wonder these morons on the Hill have gotten us in the mess we're now in.

Posted by: RB1019 | September 20, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Senator McCain, Coburn, et. al. How's about you cut your own pay and staff. Then come to us and tell us how well that's going and we'll listen to your ideas about extending it to the rest of the government.

Oh, sorry, I forgot you guys rarely move beyond the rhetorical...

Posted by: JustTheFacts11 | September 20, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Federal employees are parasitic, lazy, and need to be culled...if half of them were cut we'd see no difference in output.

Posted by: Smarg | September 20, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I recently received an e-mail that makes a lot of sense. Let's cut the House members to 216 from 435 and the Senate to 50. One for each state. Let the others go back to what they were doing. Just think of the Savings of their salaries, staff salaries, office space, etc. CEOs of large corporation receive big bonuses for cutting employees.

Posted by: ronwk109 | September 20, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Cut the numerous, onerous reports that Congress keeps requiring & see how much manpower/money can be saved. Overall, jtv1000 has it right: hair-brained ideas of a certain stripe are just so much noxious hot air. And, whatever happened to the golden rule?

Posted by: sosayskk | September 20, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

It's not unusual for a federal "worker" to go two weeks without working. The only change here would be to not pay them to not work. Win-win.

Posted by: jiji1 | September 20, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Please see the following link for actual data on government employee numbers:

which concludes:

"The percent of federal and state government employment (ex-education) have all declined. Local government employment has been steady - so overall government employment (ex-education) as a percent of the civilian population is down over the last 35 years."

Posted by: bandfriend | September 20, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

why would you exclude education? most bureaucracies exist to educate the unwashed masses

Posted by: jiji1 | September 20, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Go ahead, GOP, shut the goverment down, then the voters will know who screwed the pouch and vote you out of office!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: raca1234 | September 20, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

What about the SECDEF proposing to shutdown JFCOM, only to have VA politicians of both stripes condemn and vilify the proposal?

Politicians on both sides are self-serving, greedy, lying scumbags.

The best part of these silly proposals is getting to wonder what all the Republicans with whom I deal with on a daily basis think when it's their job on the line.

Posted by: JoeMck | September 20, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

How about we stop fighting 2 wars for 2 weeks? Or stop building presidential helicopters that the President has said aren't needed? Or not fund the development of an alternate engine for the JSF, of which the only people who want it are the congresspeople from the district to whom the jobs will go?

Politicians are scum. Republicans are just the worse of the two parties.

Posted by: JoeMck | September 20, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Congress brings up the same old issues year and year. Reduced the number of federal employees, furlough federal employees, reduce their salaries, etc. etc.

I was furglough once in my federal career for two weeks without pay. I was later paid for the two weeks that I was furlough. I had to contend with increased workload and decreased staffing for the last 20 years. This is not anything new. They expect us to do more with less and in most cases that exactly what we are doing. If you want to reduce costs, then eliminate the bonsuses paid to the Senior Executive Service (in most cases the bonsuses aren't deserved) and Political Appointees. There is a lot of waste in government but its mainly due to the SES and political appointees. Congress could save billions by eliminating their "pork bills" Until the voters get serious and vote for a complete change in Congress, business will continue as usual.

Posted by: Nonensene | September 20, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Let's see if I have this right. Republicans want to improve the economy by furloughing over a million workers, and laying off another 100,000.

Is that about right? That should improve consumer confidence.

Posted by: insider9909 | September 20, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Annsthoughts Wrote:
"...The new Republicans running for office also feel that Federal employee pensions and health care benefits are too costly, too generous. ..."

I agree so lets start with members of congress and their staffs.
Put them on a 401K program and NO/ZERO! lifetime medical insurance benefits.

Posted by: knjincvc | September 20, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) introduced a bill in June that would have the government hire only one new worker to replace every two federal retirees.

Super!!! Every time a member of congress retires only elect one new member of congress then re-balance how many senators and congressmen each state would have.

Posted by: knjincvc | September 20, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

"Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) says his bill would save the federal government more than $5.5 billion --"

Yeah Mike, $5.5 billion equals 9 1/2 days in Iraq but hey it makes for a good sound bite ... you go Mikey

Posted by: knjincvc | September 20, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse

The essential/non-essential workers argument is disingenuous. It's the difference between the fire-department and trash-removal --both are absolutely necessary, but if your trash is removed a day or two later you might be unhappy but you'd could live with it (so it's non-essential). On the other hand if your house is on fire it's pointless for the fire-department to show up a day or two later (so they are bin-essential).

Posted by: yatest | September 20, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Several things. One, why does it seem that everyone thinks the deficit and the debt are the same? Somebody needs to explain that there is a major difference.

Secondly, Cutting the normal government worker 10 days of pay a year simply puts a hardship on people that already have a hard enough time paying their bills and making ends meet. That will in no way touch the fat cats that come to Washington with empty pockets and get them filled with millions of dollars by special interests.

Thirdly, why not take 10% of the income of the entertainment and sports world and the media and talk show hosts and apply that to the national debt for about 10 years, and Americal would practically be debt free. Then we should be able to operate our government within a reasonable budget.

Posted by: pepperconserv | September 21, 2010 7:39 AM | Report abuse

Great idea, sounds so much like 1995. This proposal is as asinine as the others the GOP is proposing - good sound bites, but no meat. All this is meant to do is gin up re-election votes.

Posted by: MPersow | September 21, 2010 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Coffman is an idiot with a "notice me" type proposal. If he is really interested in cutting the deficit he should propose entitlement scrutiny. Instead, he proposes cutting the pay of federal workers whose job it is to administer the laws passed by congress that created the deficit he says he wants to reduce.

Posted by: Okiefrom | September 21, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

The GOP doesn't want to save money by eliminating Federal jobs, they want to increase the deficit by hiring more contractors to do the same work. Our wars and the idea of having contractors fight them with Haliburton, etc. is part of the cause of our deficit.

Posted by: peter49 | September 21, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

I agree that we need to cut costs withing the Federal workforce, however the GOP approach to this thing is nauseating. They have invaded countries, given billions upon billions in contracts to their cronies and now they want everyone else to sacrifice. Did you hear any suggestion of cutting the number of staffers they have? Or how about cutting their travel budgets and other perks? What about cutting all of the pork barrel projects in their home districts. Or how about truly looking at the $600,000,000,000 defense budget. All of the cuts he is proposing don't even add to 1 percent of the DOD budget. I am resentful of the fact that this Congressman and people of his ilk make these symbolic cuts in order to appease groups like the Tea Party, yet they refuse to make the tough cuts.

Posted by: stuckintraffictoo | September 21, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I retired in 2001 after 36 years (4 years military) and went through the government shutdown in 95. What a mess, I worked shifts for the National Weather Service, I was not paid a full check and had to sign a form stating "I will continue to work full time, including shifts even though I will not be paid in full". Added to this our jobs as Met Techs were being reduced with only those with full meterology degrees being hired. When I left we were down to 2 or 3 met techs, making around $45,000 per year while the professionals replacing us were making somewhere between $75.000 and $100,000, some of these educated folks would not release RAOBs (balloon soundings) at night or in bad weather because "it was below their dignity". Meanwhile I had a family with a mortage, car payments trying to live on what I thought at the time was good pay. Friends working at US Steel pushing brooms were making almost twice as much as I was when I starting working in Wyoming. So nothing has changed. The rotten Republicans continue to blame the very people that keep the government afloat. One more thing, we were promised premium conversion on our health insurance after retirement as the working Federal Employees were getting starting around 2000. We are still waiting for this, retirment has not been easy, I bring home about half I what I was making, and when sickness hits us we really have to watch what few dollars are left to "make it". I will never vote for another Republican as long as I live!!!!!

Posted by: denclark_7msncom | September 21, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

How about putting all Congressman and Senators on the same Health Care System that the general has to be on.
Also no COLA for them as well.

Posted by: buotte | September 21, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

This is a bad idea. We tried this in the 90's and had to go back and pay all employees who were furloughed back pay. We had to provide a skeleton staff to man the phones and the front desk and they were overwhelmed. We received numerous complaints from congressional offices because our phones were ringing off the hook and there was no one to answer them. We ended up paying overtime for several months just to get caught up on the work that didn't get done. It was truly a nightmare and I'm surprised they would suggest doing this again.

Posted by: mtvinnereim1 | September 21, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I worked for the US Government for many years, knowing I would never get rich but hoping I would have a comfortable retirement. I was never "overpaid and underworked". I find it absurd that the first thing everyone wants to cut to save money is the Federal workforce and retiree's benefits. We did not start any wars, nor have we committed any US funds for any wasteful prurposes. Why are we always expected to sacrifice our wages/benefits to pay for our leaders' decisions, whatever they may be? I believe it is time for the Senate and Congress to own up to their responsibilities. Their budget cutting should start where the deficit started - in their own laps. Without the Federal workforce there would be no Federal agencies, no offices to run the country on a daily basis, and if you think getting ahold of a Federal employee to answer whatever questions you may have is difficult now, just cut a few more jobs. You will grow old before that phone is ever answered.

Posted by: Cannonfire1 | September 21, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I worked for the US Government for many years, knowing I would never get rich but hoping I would have a comfortable retirement. I was never "overpaid and underworked". I find it absurd that the first thing everyone wants to cut to save money is the Federal workforce and retiree's benefits. We did not start any wars, nor have we committed any US funds for any wasteful purposes. Why are we always expected to sacrifice our wages/benefits to pay for our leaders' decisions, whatever they may be? I believe it is time for the Senate and Congress to own up to their responsibilities. Their budget cutting should start where the deficit started - in their own laps. Without the Federal workforce there would be no Federal agencies, no offices to run the country on a daily basis, and if you think getting a hold of a Federal employee to answer whatever questions you may have is difficult now, just cut a few more jobs. You will grow old before that phone is ever answered.

Posted by: Cannonfire1 | September 21, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

In most cases personnel cost is always the highestexpense of any organization. And, it must be addressed in the federal sector just like in any other organization. But, an arbitrary two week fourlough of non-essentail federal workers makes little, if any practical sense. As an employer, the government should consider other options, for example perhaps no COLA for a year or so, and no bonuses(while step increases are still in place) and the elimination of some of the over the top bennies. (I heard a radio annoucement on how an agency had budgeted paying over 30 mil a year to pay for college loans for to retain so-called "talented" employees). Benefits like that, which probably arent available to the rank and file workers and irk regular taxpayers who can never dream of such perks that should considered first.

Posted by: PracticalIndependent | September 21, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

biffgrifftheoneandonly has the best idea to date. Get the Speaker off of that big plane. Secondly the first lady could vacation here (US)to keep some of those big dollars in our economy. Thirdly lets limit POTUS to a more reasonible amount of vacations. Bush thought Camp David was a great vacation place. I believe it is a US Navy Facility, we already own it. I worked for the FAA prior to retiring in 2003, let me emphasize "WORKED". The last 28 years of a 41 year career was spent in service to the military and flying public I shiver at the thought of reducing an already skinny staffing. Keep the FAAers in mind when you are cruising at 35,000 feet.

Posted by: 41forU | September 21, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Under the Civil Service Retirement System, eligibility for retirement benefits BEGINS with a combination of 30 years of service and a minimum age of 55. Rep. Coffman is eligible for a " retirement " benefit after one term of service. A little more leveling of the playing field if you please..........

Posted by: 5016 | September 21, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Bunch of dumb yokels wowed by silly, symbolic anti-government gestures. Story at 11.

Posted by: bugmenot | September 21, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Cancel the $56.8B that Pres Obama has asked for in the 2011 budget. That's much better than $5.5B. How much does the US receive from other countries? The US taxpayer is paying for things such as defense, health, education, etc., etc., twice (first in the US and second in other countries) because that is the "official" reason for giving US aid to other countries, including many modern countries. Why does the US care so much about the defense, the health, and the education of people in other countries when the US is in need of the same needs?

Posted by: aznative16 | September 21, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

The only proposal mentioned that I can agree with is McCain and Fiengold wanting to cut down the number of political appointees in government. There has been a huge increase of these freeloaders since the 1980's. They get high pay and are there to interfere with the work employees are doing to benefit lobbying interests, or implement policies that are meant to stiffle government etc.

Posted by: LeaveMeAlone2 | September 21, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't it be nice if congress actually became a responsible governing body and did something that would help the American people - like get rid of all the "pork." That would go a long ways in reducing the deficit.

Posted by: jparo000 | September 21, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Rep. Mike Coffman that we should furlough federal workers for 2 weeks next year. Starting with him and the other 534 leeches and their staffs.

Posted by: blueeyed1 | September 21, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

@dcharlson: "I would be willing to give up 10% of my retirement as long as it wouldn't be pissed away in another stimulus bill or pay back for the unions."

What if it were pissed away in unnecessary and unwinable wars? Would that be OK? All but one of my 32 years worth of service was within DoD agencies. That other year? IRS, where they constantly stated that they could bring in a lot more in tax money if they just had enough manpower to enforce the tax laws.

Posted by: coeusafdadon | September 21, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

$5.5 Billion is such a small drop in the bucket. This proposal is meaningless from a deficit reduction perspective. It's simple pandering to conservative voters.

2 week furlough savings:

Current deficit:

Do the math. It's laughable. You could get the same savings by not building 2 or 3 B-2 bombers.

Posted by: redwing99 | September 21, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Oh the logistics of this. First the fed's would only save maybe 85%, on 100% due to unpaid taxes. The employees on the other hand do have a major problem. Automatic withdrawal such as health care, Long term health care, FICA, Social Security, allotments. I could go on and on, but I suppose you get the picture. High paid employees may decide to use all their annual eave and the furlough in consecutive days. Wow, 7 weeks off. the GOP has not thought this through. just palin silly. Congress can shut down federal programs at anytime.

May be they should just get read of all class C employees, ie the political hires.

That would probably equal what monies they are looking for, but they won't DARE!

Posted by: donkapalka | September 22, 2010 1:59 AM | Report abuse

Congress should stop the war in Iraq and Afghanistan (costing at least one trillion dollars) and see what this would do for the federal budget.

Posted by: raygfl | September 22, 2010 5:11 AM | Report abuse

I'd be willing to take a two week, unpaid furlough if it includes cutting our lawmakers' outrageous salaries!

Posted by: navoshlady | September 22, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I am a Federal employee. Congress enacted Public Laws for which I do not have the resources to uphold. I can not hire the appropriate number of Federal employees, nor do I have access to sufficient funds to suppliment my staff with contractors to accomplish what Congress (and The President) have signed into law. The security of The United States of America seems to be determined by how, where, and how much funding is allocated to which areas within our Country (and given to other countries and causes). Yes, uphold treaties. Yes, support just causes. [Congress] Plan ahead so that my [30+year] contract with the American citizens isn't cut short [at the convienience of the Government (law-makers)]. We've been guaranteed LIFE, LIBERTY, and PURSUIT.

Posted by: I_Served | September 22, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I work for the Federal government and get angry every time I have to pay double to purchase office supplies because I have to buy them from “approved” suppliers. I had to pay $1,200 for a printer that I could have bought from Amazon for $700. I watch the states get federal funds to basically do whatever they want with. Take a look at some of the federally mandated committees. Yes, some federal workers are lazy, but so are some private sector workers. What the federal govt gets so wrong that most private employers don’t is all the other stuff. I watch my agency overspend for everything and it burns me up. We should be paying less since we are such a huge buying block, but instead the govt cuts deals with companies that cost the govt more and ties the hands of govt employees that want to do the right thing. I would like to spend the govt’s money as wisely as I spend my own, but I can’t. Yes, something needs to be done, but don’t be so quick to point the finger at federal workers and their benefits. There are many federal workers that are overpaid for the work they do and there are many that are underpaid. There isn’t a mold that we all fit into. There needs to be reform, but not all of it should be at the expense of all federal employees.

Posted by: Constance1 | September 22, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Every part of Gov't must take "hits" to balance the budget. This includes Homeland security, defense, federal retirees and congress. The only programs I would not cut are education for our children and health care for every American. Corporations are moving away from providing affordable health care. In order for America to thrive each of us must be moved under one health care system and are children must be assured an education which would include "trade" training for those not attending college.

Posted by: toppsin50 | September 23, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Well, now we've done it-We allowed a number of individuals who "serve the public" to represent-or more accurately-MISREPRESENT our current political needs and the publics wishes. Yet these same individuals are nearly guaranteed to vote themselves "YET ANOTHER" 15%-25% pay raise at the end of their current session-Justified by the changing economy. GREED folks, that is what this is pure and simple. Too many FAT CATS in our leadership and most of them don't pay taxes and have failed to recognize three points that nearly every American gets without the need of higher education.

1. We are broke-no, not in the monetary sense, more accurately-in the common sense area. We spend Millions going after a state "Arizona", to publicly humiliate their leadership and for what reason?? To prevent the mass abuse of Privacy Rights in the name of searching for Illegal Immigrants. GET A GRIP PEOPLE-THEY'RE ILLEGALS and every single Legal American would gladly hand over an authentic ID to get rid of these leaches on American Resources. The contributions of illegals, as would be argued by those who think small thoughts would be-the cost of your vegetables and fruits would soar too high if we had Americans doing the work. REALLY, that is so unspeakably stupid as to be cataloged as another smoke and mirror campaign to keep the public ignorant of what is really happening. If you had Americans doing the work, the costs would go up, but as a contrast, fewer would be unemployed, fewer yet would be on welfare and "OMG" you might actually see a reduction in the crime, as the outcasts would finally be "Cast Out".

2. Millions more are spent by our politicians in the name of political competition as the cash cows of Washington-the supposed enemy of the real people-and according to Obama, the target of government cleanup after he entered office-LOBBYISTs. There are even more of them now after Obama took office and the hole in our treasury just keeps getting bigger as we spend even more through our Political Representatives on useless projects They are not there for our interests they are there for their own.

3. Our budget problems and our economy are related but are not the same. Contemplate this for a moment: the US is at war, and has been for more than eight years. Yet we are currently the strongest nation in the world-and I don't mean just militarily. Our strength is having 20% or less unemployment. Check any other country on the globe, nearly all are +25% unemployment-some +30%. Nothing to do with how we as a people spending money-it has everything to do with what "BIG MONEY" wants us to believe so they can keep us fighting each other instead of removing the problem-corruption of our leaders.

Put it to popular vote-WE Don't NEED any legislature replacing our popular vote on this.

Ask any politician to go on "2 WEEKs UNPAID FURLOUGH", have your recorder on, you'll get an ear full and a tape full that you could share with the rest of us. Lies, all Lies.

Posted by: mdjones1 | September 23, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

This is typical Republican logic:

Balance the budget by sending trillions to the richest people in the world, and improve unemployment by laying people off.

The $5.5 billion is a big number, but it's a drop in the bucket of the $14 trillion economy and the $2 trillion budget.

What you will end up doing is ticking off Federal workers, and those with any sense or talent will leave the government, and perhaps the US, to work where they are appreciated. Then Republicans can prove how ineffectual government is by only having workers who can't find better jobs elsewhere.

This is the same logic that trashed Wall Street and gave use 9.5% unemployment. The only way Republicans business logic works is with heavy subsidies from taxpayers, whom Republicans despise unless them make over $1m a year.

Posted by: AxelDC | September 27, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

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