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GOP 'Pledge to America' targets federal workers

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 11:43 a.m. ET
Buried within the 21-page GOP's Pledge to America is a proposal long expected by federal workers, their unions and allies:

"Impose a Net Federal Hiring Freeze of Non-Security Employees: Small businesses and entrepreneurs are the engine of our economy and should not be crowded out by unchecked government growth. We will impose a net hiring freeze on non-security federal employees and ensure the public sector no longer grows at the expense of the private sector."

Republican lawmakers have been targeting the federal workforce in spending proposals most of this year, so the plan comes as no surprise. But the "Pledge" essentially hands Republican candidates a series of ideas to campaign about in the next 40 days, virtually assuring that the idea of a federal hiring freeze will earn more attention.

So how do Republicans propose freezing the federal workforce?

A proposal unveiled Tuesday by House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) would cut federal employment to 2008 levels, saving about $35 billion over the next decade. Lummis in June first proposed the idea of replacing every two non-security federal retirees with only one new worker.

The plan "is not a rigid hiring freeze, but allows the government to continue bringing in new workers while cutting significant costs," Cantor and Lummis said. They say that the government has grown by about 188,000 new workers, or 15 percent, since President Obama took office.

But Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who will help unveil the "Pledge" Thursday, used different numbers in an e-mail to The Eye, saying that the government has added 130,000 new workers, not including the Postal Service, Census Bureau or uniformed military.

"A net hiring freeze is reasonable and necessary," Chaffetz said, adding later that, "In the face of massive debt we must do more with less. We don't need more government jobs, we need a thriving private sector."

Outside observers suggest the number of new hires is actually higher. John Palguta, vice president for policy at the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service, estimates that the total number since Jan. 2009 is actually closer to 200,000.

From October 2008 to March 2010, there were 201,580 new hires into full-time, permanent, non-seasonal federal jobs, according to Office of Personnel Management figures cited by Palguta. Those figures don't include Postal workers, temporary Census Bureau hires or the uniformed military. But they also include the three months before Obama took office -- so it's not an entirely fair comparison to the GOP's numbers.

Max Stier, the Partnership's president, said the federal workforce is no larger than it was in the 1960s in absolute terms.

"It's actually smaller relative to the size of the population of the United States," Stier said. "Most of the growth that we've seen in the last six-plus years has come from efforts to improve our physical security: the Transportation Security Administration, DHS. The growth has been in the kinds of jobs that the hiring freeze doesn't apply to. So if you look at the VA, DHS and DOD, you account for the vast bulk of the growth. That wouldn't be touched."

Federal worker union leaders also expressed concern with the plans.

"Even under a hiring freeze the work of the federal government would still have to be done, as the American public expects," said Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union. A freeze might also result in a return to "unaccountable and costly private contractors," she said.

The Obama administration is in the process of eliminating at least $40 billion in no-bid government contracts and is exploring ways to return some government services conducted by outside firms to federal agencies.

The GOP's plans only add to ongoing conversations about government spending cuts, said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), who sits on the Senate panel overseeing the federal workforce. Lawmakers are already considering Obama's plans to freeze non-defense discretionary spending and to cut $100 billion in the Pentagon budget. And they're waiting for the recommendations of the President's Deficit Commission and looking for ways to cut waste, fraud and abuse.

"I believe the President has laid out a prudent course to reduce our deficit and Congress should continue to pursue with energy," Carper said.

This issue isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and there will be more reaction throughout the day (we'll add it here). Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | September 23, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Congress, Workplace Issues  
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Comments

Federal Employees should be targeted and their numbers should be dramatically reduced - right now they are a drag on the economy, they increase the budget deficit. A 10% reduction in the Federal work force would not even be felt as they are the most inefficient, overpaid, and unqualified workers in America.

Posted by: Realist201 | September 23, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

So what would we like to dismantle? FDA? CIA? FBI? How about the USAF, USMC, US Army? Even better, lets take out DHS, TSA! Lets kill the federal government right now! Then we get to blame the President on every single disaster in the US for the next 20 years!

Posted by: logicaldoubtofhumansanity | September 23, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

As someone with a federal worker in the family, I think that the title of this artical is totally misleading. No current federal employee is targeted or at risk of loseing his or her job under the Pledge and agencies will still be able to replace those workers who retire or otherwise leave. It only argues against a continued vast expansion of the federal workforce - something that the numbers listed bellow would already do for any commonsense American.

Posted by: fjh3q | September 23, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

As usual, the GOP offers no meat, just lofty ideas and they continue the 30 year war on Federal employees that Reagan started. Here's an idea - let's decrease the number of CONGRESSIONAL employees to 1995 levels, that will save a lot of money and get rid of a lot of useless people feeding off the Federal teat. And while we're at it, I propose that Congressional pay be docked for each day that all of the appropriations bills are not passed and signed into law on or after October 1. Using the standard 2087 hours for Federal employees, this would save $356,000+ per day in wages we wouldn't have to pay these fools.

Posted by: MPersow | September 23, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

This is just a back door gift to the "beltway bandit" contracting companies. The work will still need to be done- only the taxpayer, in addition to paying the salary and bennies of the contract employee, will hand over large six-figure bonuses to the top dogs of contracting companies. That and the additional costs in loss of institutional knowledge since the employee won't be a fed, and the extra time to train the revolving series of contractors, has been proven to be more costly than simply hiring Federal employees. But anyone not working in DC or for the gov't won't understand this dyanmic: which is what the Republicans hope for.

Posted by: DJMonet | September 23, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

From the article; "Max Stier, the Partnership's president, said the federal workforce is no larger than it was in the 1960s in absolute terms. "

If this statement is true then the government has some very real major problems.

Due to the advent of computer age the private sector has achieved remarkable gains in productivity and efficiency and as a result has reduced its workforce greatly in "absolute terms".

So what the heck are the federal employees doing with all of their fancy computers, it appears that they sure as heck aren't using them.

In "absolute terms" the Federal workforce should have shrunk by 66% because of the computer age.

Posted by: davidholt123@comcast.net | September 23, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

JOBS......WHAT JOBS

REPUBLICANS SEND JOBS OVERSEAS AND WANT TO GET RID OF JOBS PEOPLE HAVE HERE.

Posted by: honeybee1 | September 23, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

so when the people who lose their gov. job apply for unemployment benifits are they going to be called lazy by the very people who lost them their jobs?
Tea Parties are for little girls with imaginary friends.

Posted by: katem1 | September 23, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

so when the people who lose their gov. job apply for unemployment benifits are they going to be called lazy by the very people who lost them their jobs?
Tea Parties are for little girls with imaginary friends.

Posted by: katem1

========================

Sure. Better yet, when they get jobs in the private sector with a raise and then charge back their services on government contracts they will be miraculously underpaid.

It's an amazing phenomena. Charge the government more as a private contractor and the same person goes from incompetent to competent.

Posted by: James10 | September 23, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Sure would be nice if they could work together on a plan........just a thought.

Posted by: Kolchak | September 23, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Finally, the proverbial act of congress to fire a federal employee. I hope we dismiss all inept employees. Whether they are white, brown, black, or whatever color they are. Hopefully, we don't have any illegal aliens working for us. How about crooks in the federal hire. Oops, those are the members of congress themselves, but no doubt they are protected. Oh, wait, we can vote them out. No incumbents to be re-elected. Oh shucks, my alarm clock just went off. I must have been dreaming. Better luck next time. God bless the taxpayers.

Posted by: bigedpape | September 23, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

"Federal Employees should be targeted and their numbers should be dramatically reduced - right now they are a drag on the economy, they increase the budget deficit. A 10% reduction in the Federal work force would not even be felt as they are the most inefficient, overpaid, and unqualified workers in America."

Using this logic, so do secretary's and any other support employee for a private company, so what's your point? Everyone at a company needs to produce revenue? In that case, you likely would be on the dole by now. Don't make knee-jerk assumptions about people's livelyhoods. Not unless you truly want a government that can not meet any of its constiuents needs. Try getting a congreesman or senator to write their own thougths down on a piece of paper sometime. I don't even work in government and I can see your statement for what it is.

Posted by: dougw3 | September 23, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

lol Hey, I'm all for being streamlined, but to say that we should undermine our government so that private sector companies can get the business or the employees is insane. Republicans want to undermine the government and replace it with corporations. These people are dangerous and cannot be trusted. The private sector is motivated by one thing, money. The folks in the middle of the country will complain about the feds until the rivers overflow and then they'll be screaming for the feds to come and save them.

Posted by: nsu1203 | September 23, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Cut those fat arrogant ba$tards

Posted by: Capitalist-1 | September 23, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, while we're at it, let's stop with the redistribution of wealth. I'm tired of my tax dollars going to right-leaning states to help them pay for roads. Why should Alaska get $1.87 back for every $1 that it sends to Washington? That's ridiculous. No more blue states subsidizing red states!!!

Posted by: nsu1203 | September 23, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I think a reduction of the Federal work force as Boomers retire is a good thing. However, what about contractors??? The reason government is smaller in absolute terms is because of the massive "shadow government" engendered by contractors. How many total are there? What is their total cost? No one knows... Additionally, Federal salaries and benefits are among the smallest piece of the Federal budget. Without discussing specifics on reigning in Social Security and Medicare/ Medicaid, this is all smoke and mirrors. It's like saying you'll save money by giving up your Starbucks when you are still trapped in a mortgage you can't afford. Your structural financial condition hasn't changed.

Posted by: aweds1 | September 23, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Federal employees - Are you listening? Know who to vote for? Forget your ideology. Think of your job, mortgage, schooling, retirement!!! This is so GOP. Downsize the government immediately. Then rehire all political cronies and friends.

Posted by: pkbishop1 | September 23, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

@Realist201 - There are many very qualified Federal workers in very important jobs, many of them grossly underpaid. A lot of these are working in the Intelligence Community, Cyber Defense, and other places that do not have a very public image. To portray all Federal workers as inefficient, overpaid and unqualified is simply not fair.

No, I am not one of those workers, but I used to be one. I left for better pay in the private sector doing much the same work.

Posted by: mencik | September 23, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Excuse me do these clowns totally forget that they are also FEDERAL WORKERS and the stupidity that they constantly suggest should include them too?

I swear in between the crazy ideas of the GOP and the Tea Party we as people are going to heck in a hand basket for sure. Stupid Is As Stupid Does. Will it ever end?

Posted by: msruby36 | September 23, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

@Realist201 - There are many very qualified Federal workers in very important jobs, many of them grossly underpaid. A lot of these are working in the Intelligence Community, Cyber Defense, and other places that do not have a very public image. To portray all Federal workers as inefficient, overpaid and unqualified is simply not fair.

No, I am not one of those workers, but I used to be one. I left for better pay in the private sector doing much the same work.

Posted by: mencik | September 23, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Sooo .... have congressional republicans announced they are cutting their staff by 75%?
Have they announced they are taking 50% pay and benefit cuts?

Will they? Of course not.

Posted by: knjincvc | September 23, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

@ Realist201 who said "A 10% reduction in the Federal work force would not even be felt as they are the most inefficient, overpaid, and unqualified workers in America." Talk about making broad generalizations and stereotyping a whole group of people for a few bad eggs. As someone who is a Federal employee I can tell you that I work with some of the hardest working people. Yes, there are some who are inefficient, overpaid and unqualified but that is the minority, I can assure you. Please stop making these statements as it only further fuels the fire.

Would you make such blanket statements about another group of people or profession? If Federal employees weren't here, the health, safety and wellbeing of our citizens would be impacted immeasurably! We wouldn't have people regulating drugs and food in the market (who do you think helped with the Swine Flu breakout or Anthrax scare?), millions of Americans would be w/o health insurance if it wasn't for us and I could go on and on. Federal employees are needed. What is needed is for managers to hold their employees accountable to get the job done and for those in management positions to help ensure everything moves smoothly and timely.

Posted by: beachgirlDC | September 23, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

how does a freeze and repealing health care create jobs? this is going to fun to watch over the next two years.then that will be it for these guys.

Posted by: donaldtucker | September 23, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

REPUBLICANS - RECLAIMING GOVERNMENT FOR THE PEOPLE! HA! HAHAHA! HAHAHAHA AHAHA AHA AHA AH AHA AAHA AHAHAHAHAHAHA A AHAHA AHA HAHAA H A AHA HAH AH !!! Oh yeah: lol hahahahah aha ha ah a, ouch, my stomach hurts haaha ah aha ah ah aha aaaaaa…

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

If their "Pledge To America" is anything like their "Contract on America" was, it'll be null and void about 10 minutes after the election.

This is all just more of the usual BS from the extremist Republican party. All they ever have to offer is bumper sticker slogans and slick gimmicks, word-smithed by Frank Luntz, and made to order for the dumbest people in the country (the Republican base aka Teabaggers) to grab onto and automatically start repeating as gospel.

Republicans are like a law firm (Dewey Cheatham & Howe) for corporate liars, corporate and political thieves and corporate and political prostitutes. They have no soul and no conscience. It's all about the money. Tax cuts for the top 1% of the wealthiest people with borrowed money from China. No help for the middle class, just slash and burn and continued war.

.

Posted by: DrainYou | September 23, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

The TV and Print Media are giving the republicans/tea party free ride.
1) They must be asked to specify how they plan to balance the budget.
2). They must specify if they intend to privatize SS and medicare.
3). They must say how they plan create jobs.
4). They must say if they would have allowed the auto makers go bankrupt and what would have happended to all the jobs that depended on them.
5). They must say how they will handle the home mortgage crisis and the impednding forclosures.
6). They must say if they plan to reverse the trend of allowing comapnies to ship jobs overseas.
7). Above all, they must say what happens if the health care is repealed. What replaces it and how soon.

What happens to millions without health care. We can't continue to allow them to float all these meaningless proposals that are not supported by any concrete plans.
I say reports should do their work by pressing these guys for specifics.

Finally, they all supported Bush to fight two wars -Iraq and Afganistan - off budget. When they quote the budget during the Bush admin years, everyone should realize it did not include the war funding. This is a bunch of smoking mirrors.

Mordi Iheme
Valley Center
California

Posted by: ihememi | September 23, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

If people aren't hired as federal employees, there will be more people on welfare.

What's the difference for the country?

You don't have to provide a desk and internet access to people on welfare.

Posted by: jiji1 | September 23, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

As usual, the extremist Republican party has got nothing...

Nothing to see here, folks....

They want to make it illegal for insurance companies to "deny coverage to someone with prior coverage on the basis of a preexisting condition." What does that mean? The premium could be as high as the company wants, so coverage hasn't been "denied." And what about those who don't have coverage now? Sounds like they're tying themselves in knots because you can't have a ban on discrimination on preexisting conditions without a mandate, which they desperately want to avoid.

Republicans say they'll "incentivize" states to develop "innovative" programs, but don't say what those incentives or programs might be.

Republicans say they'll cut spending, but don't say what they'll cut that would matter.

And don't forget the "job-killing tax hikes" that would happen if we returned to the rates under Clinton, because we all remember all those jobs that were lost while Clinton was president....NOT!

This is nothing but more rainbows and unicorns from the extremist Republican party of no ideas.

.

Posted by: DrainYou | September 23, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

November can't come soon enough.

Posted by: JBfromFL | September 24, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

How many times do I have to say this? The GOP is no longer the party of Abraham Lincoln. They haven't been for nearly a century - 1912 to be exact. That was the year that Theodore Roosevelt arrived at the Republican Convention in Chicago expecting to be nominated as the candidate to face Woodrow Wilson in the general election in the fall. It wasn't a pipe dream on TR's part. After all, he had easily defeated the incumbent president William Howard Taft in the primaries. He had every reason to believe that he would be the GOP's standard bearer that year. Unfortunately, the people who controlled that party had other ideas. They knew damned well that Teddy's progressive policies were a direct threat to the stranglehold that the plutocracy had on the American economy. The nomination went to Taft. That was the end. The progressive wing of the grand old party died right then and there. Twenty years later when Roosevelt's distant cousin Franklin picked up the tarnished progressive banner, he would do so as a Democrat.

You know what they can do with their "pledge".

http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com

Tom Degan

Posted by: tomdeganfrontiernetnet | September 24, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Congratulations Republicans, you just won my vote - for the Democrats.

A federal hiring freeze is the last thing we need right now. You think we have enough jobs that we should be eliminating more? Forget that. With the dearth of private sector jobs, the federal government is one of the last places to get a job where you'll get decent experience.

You know what you should do? Force the baby boomers to retire from their fed jobs and hire gens x and y to replace them. It's darn hard for a young person to get a decent job these days.

I'm disgusted with Obama and Congress, but you finally won my over to their side by making them the lesser of two evils.

Posted by: Alan5633 | September 24, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

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