Federal pay freeze: Reaction
Assorted reaction President Obama's decision to freeze the salaries of federal employees for two years:
Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry:
"Federal employees work hard for our nation each day, and this sacrifice the President asked them to make today is significant and emblematic of the shared sacrifice we all will have to make if we are to bring the deficit to heel and preserve an economic future for our children."
American Federation of Government Employees President John Gage:
"This proposal to freeze federal pay is a superficial, panicked reaction to the deficit commission report. This pay freeze amounts to nothing more than political public relations. This is no time for scapegoating. The American people didn't vote to stick it to a VA nursing assistant making $28,000 a year or a border patrol agent earning $34,000 per year.
"President Obama asks federal workers to share the sacrifice, but it's unconscionable for him to attack the wages of federal working people while the millionaires and billionaires on Wall Street not only get their bailouts and astronomical bonuses; they also get their tax cuts."
National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen M. Kelley:
"NTEU disagrees with the president's announcement today calling for a two-year freeze on pay for civilian federal employees. NTEU is mindful of our nation's economic circumstances, but we are very disappointed with the White House's position and intend to explore all of our options, including working with Congress to overturn it. The modest 1.4 percent raise under consideration for 2011 is reflective of the average increase in wages in the private sector.
"On a daily basis, federal employees perform a number of vital and critical jobs on behalf of the American people, including ensuring our country's safety at its borders and airports and being tasked with the responsibility of carrying out measures designed to improve and move forward our halting economy. Our government needs to be able to hire and keep talented and skilled employees, and worsening federal pay will make that much more difficult."
National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association President Joseph A. Beaudoin:
"We understand the purpose of shared sacrifice. But federal employees and their families once again are being singled out. This action comes at a time when the federal government can ill afford to put recruitment and retention at risk. Indeed, freezing or cutting pay sends the wrong signal to the best and brightest workers federal agencies will need in these difficult times."
Partnership for Public Service President Max Stier:
"Clearly, we need to make hard choices to restore our nation's fiscal health. Everyone, including federal employees, must shoulder some of the burden - but Americans should be reminded of the importance of the federal workforce in resolving the multifaceted crises that face our nation. Federal employees are working to restore our economic position, foil terrorist plots, and provide services to those Americans who are suffering most in our struggling economy.
"We should not be overcompensating federal employees for the work that they do, but neither should we risk losing critical talent by undercompensating the highly skilled employees needed to carry out mission-critical activities. Across the board freezes or cuts are rarely the best management choices, because they avoid the real evaluation that ought to be done. We urge the Administration and Congress to review the current compensation system and devise one that is more market-sensitive, so Americans can be assured its workforce is appropriately compensated."
Statement from the Federal Managers Association:
"Federal employees are not immune to the economic woes experienced by other Americans; civil servants are facing a seven percent increase in their health insurance premiums in 2011, in addition to a nine percent increase this year. Additionally, many feds have spouses who lost their jobs as a result of the economic downturn and are now supporting their families on significantly less pay. By instituting a blanket pay freeze, the take home pay of civil servants will decrease over the next two years, which will not only harm these families, but will also have a negative effect on our struggling economy.
"It is FMA's position that any discussion of federal employee pay and compensation should center on the formulaic process employed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in the development of annual salary adjustment recommendations. The President initially proposed adjusting federal salaries to reflect the rise in private sector wages, as exhibited in the Employment Cost Index (ECI). The ECI used to determine private sector wages rose by an average of 1.4 percent last year, leading the President to recommend an identical pay increase for members of the federal workforce."
International Federal of Professional and Technical Engineers President Gregory Junemann:
"Federal workers shouldn't be paying such a high price for the country's economic problems. There are better ways to deal with the federal deficit than making federal employees sacrifice and their families suffer.
"For example, the Deficit Commission is right to call for an increase in taxes on investment income. Also, the time has come to allow the immoral tax cuts that President Bush doled out to the wealthiest two percent of American wage earners to expire. That last change alone will prevent another $1 trillion from being added to our national debt over the next ten years.
"The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that civil servants are paid 24 percent less than their private sector counterparts, that gap will likely widen as a result of today's announcement by the Obama administration to freeze the pay of federal workers. This is not sound economic policy, its sledgehammer economics."
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.):
"Millions of Americans are out of work, and many are tightening their belts; Federal employees must be no different. While I appreciate that the President reduced the length of his proposed pay freeze from three to two years, it would have produced significantly more savings had that sacrifice been shared between Federal civilian and military personnel -- with a strong exception for the members of our military and civilian employees risking their lives on our behalf in Afghanistan, Iraq, and anywhere else they are serving in harm's way.
"It would have also added an element of fairness: there has been parity between civilian and military pay raises for 22 of the past 28 years in which raises were authorized, and hundreds of thousands of Federal civilian employees work alongside military employees in the Department of Defense and other agencies. In fact, the first American casualty in Afghanistan was a CIA agent -- a federal civilian employee."
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.):
"I am encouraged by President Obama's proposal to freeze non-military federal pay for the next two years. This past May, House Republicans--prompted by YouCut voters--offered the very same spending-cut proposal on the floor of the House. The YouCut proposal was one of many specific spending reductions offered by House Republicans over the past two years, and we are pleased that President Obama appears ready to join our efforts. As the recent election made clear, Americans are fed up with a government that spends too much, borrows too much and grows too much.
"Many federal employees do important work, but this is exactly the kind of savings measure we have to make in order to begin to restore some fiscal sanity in America, especially considering recent reports of federal salaries significantly outpacing private-sector salaries. With so many Americans tightening their belts, Washington must do the same."
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on federal workforce:
"Since taking office in 2009, the Obama Administration has added 141,000 new workers to the federal payroll. This number does not even include Postal, temporary census enumerators, or uniformed military workers. Furthermore, according to a recent announcement, the Administration anticipates adding yet another 125,000 new federal hires this fiscal year.
"If the Administration's proposal does indeed freeze overall gross pay, it is a step in the right direction. However, the proposal does not appear to curb step increases. If that is the case, this announcement is nothing more than a hollow press release. At the end of the day, this policy will serve only to frustrate current employees, while doing nothing to curb our debts."
Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.):
"Make no mistake, reducing the deficit and paying down the debt will not be easy and all Americans, including federal employees, will have to do their part. But a federal pay freeze should only be considered as part of an overall deficit reduction plan. Singling out federal employees in advance of a comprehensive plan is counter-productive and risks leaving Americans with the false impression that federal employee pay raises are a significant contributor to our national debt.
"The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, tax cuts without offsetting spending reductions, and rising entitlement costs are the fundamental drivers of rising deficits. Allowing federal employees to be used as a political football merely serves to distract from the hard choices we must make to bring our nation's fiscal house in order."
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee:
"Federal employees, including members of Congress and our staffs, have to sacrifice as part of an urgent need to curtail the cost of the federal government and reduce the national debt to help get us out of these tough economic times.
"I say this with regret, because we are asking many dedicated, hard-working, and patriotic public servants to pay a price for fiscal and economic conditions for which they are not responsible. But private sector employees across the country are struggling, and all sectors, including the public sector, must tighten their belts.
"I hope that this sacrifice by federal employees will be part of a comprehensive and successful national effort to get our fiscal house in order and that an improved economy will yield a brighter national jobs picture in which all workers, including federal employees, can benefit."
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.):
"I applaud President Obama for taking action to rein in government spending by temporarily freezing federal employee wages. There is still more work to be done and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to control spending and reduce our national debt."
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah):
"Freezing civilian pay for federal workers is a step in the right direction, but it does not go far enough to shrink the size of our bloated government. The President should also cut or freeze the number of federal workers, which is precisely what the Reduce and Cap the Federal Workforce Act that I introduced recently would accomplish."
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.):
"President Obama's call for a federal pay freeze is a welcome step that will show taxpayers the federal government is willing to sacrifice and lead by example. Workers in the private sector are right to be concerned that federal salaries and benefits are, on average, twice as generous. I would also encourage agency heads to take steps now to freeze federal pay that do not require congressional approval."
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| November 29, 2010; 3:49 PM ET
Categories: Workplace Issues
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