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Posted at 7:25 PM ET, 12/ 6/2010

Local legislators urge changes to federal pay freeze plan

By Joe Davidson
Post Editor

A group of Washington-area members of Congress, including the House majority leader, are pushing back against President Obama's plan for a two-year freeze on federal pay. The White House wants legislative approval of the plan during the lame-duck session.

The eight House members, including Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), said Congress should consider just a one-year freeze, with the remaining year perhaps being considered later as part of a larger deficit-reduction program.

In a letter to the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, the members said, "We do not believe civil servants should be unfairly targeted outside the context of a comprehensive approach to the federal budget simply because they carry out the work of the federal government."

In addition to Hoyer, Reps. James P. Moran, Gerald E. Connolly and Frank R. Wolf of Virginia, Chris Van Hollen, John P. Sarbanes and Donna F. Edwards of Maryland, and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District signed the letter. All but Wolf are Democrats.

Any adjustments to pay beyond fiscal year 2011 should "be reserved for the 112th Congress," which begins next month, they added, "where federal pay can be considered in the context of a more comprehensive approach to deficit reduction."

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Joe Davidson  | December 6, 2010; 7:25 PM ET
Categories:  Congress, Workplace Issues  
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Comments

A one year freeze is too long. Obama previously asked federal employees to take a hit and they did. Morale has got to be low.

How can an employee feel good about his organization when it constantly targets him as an easy out. But this is no out. It's just bogus. A pay freeze will only make things worse.

Posted by: USDA | December 6, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Why any freeze at all? Why are federal employees the only group to be targeted for deficit reduction? Why do federal employees have to fund extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich? It is outrageous.

Posted by: RCFriedman | December 6, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

What makes the federal pay argument so comical is that 99% of those who LOVE the freeze love it because they WANT to blame federal employees as the problem financially with this country

They believe that everyone working at the feds makes 125k and that they are all lazy

As anyone who has worked for the feds OR knows federal workers, none of this is even slightly true

But the truth is irrelevant these days in political arguments

Posted by: Bious | December 6, 2010 9:26 PM | Report abuse

I do not mind the pay freeze. I do mind that Federal employees are being used as pawns in this political game. How disgusting that Federal employees, all middle class, are asked to take a hit but Obama is willing to continue tax cuts for the rich. If the tax cuts were allowed to expire for the wealthy (those making well over $250,000 by the way), then the pay freeze would be more fair.

Posted by: commentator3 | December 7, 2010 1:47 AM | Report abuse

I do not mind the pay freeze. I do mind that Federal employees are being used as pawns in this political game. How disgusting that Federal employees, all middle class, are asked to take a hit but Obama is willing to continue tax cuts for the rich. If the tax cuts were allowed to expire for the wealthy (those making well over $250,000 by the way), then the pay freeze would be more fair.

Posted by: commentator3 | December 7, 2010 1:47 AM | Report abuse

I'm ok with the pay freeze. However, there are about a million other wasteful things that congress could cut that should be considered first. Feds are pawns right now because of all the stories about us in the media. Working at Treasury on 9/11 and in the weeks and months after...I wish I got paid for all those late nights and weekends I came in.

Posted by: RB1019 | December 7, 2010 7:24 AM | Report abuse

What a hypocrite Wolf is. If he was outside the DC area he'd be calling for not just a freeze but a RIF!

Posted by: solsticebelle | December 7, 2010 7:27 AM | Report abuse

As a federal worker I have already tightened my belt. Why, why, why are the federal workers always the target. If you let the tax breaks for the rich expire, that right there would help a great deal to balance the deficit and it would be just "FAIR" for all. The rich are always excluded in any thing done when it comes to money. Here we are at Christmas time, it sure is feels rotten to lay this on us at this time. But isn't that what they did in the Clinton years too! The mess extends beyond the federal workforce. How about WALLSTREET!!!!! How can government shout about PAY FREEZES when we just bailed about the BANKS!!! This why my children don't work for the FEDS. They watch this time and time again.

Posted by: dihcroepac | December 7, 2010 7:38 AM | Report abuse

Every Federal worker should remember this. Barak Obama would rather throw you under the bus than slightly increase the income tax on multi-millionaires. What an absurd thing, to VOLUNTARY agree to a wage freeze, without getting a thing in return from the Republicans. Where did this guy learn negotiation techniques?

Posted by: gasmonkey | December 7, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

The federal pay freeze is a symtom of a bigger problem. The public does not think highly of the federal workforce. They do not value the services that are provided every day. Every since the Reagan Adminisration, it has been part of the Republican playbook to demonize federal employees. Frank Wolf has been part of that process so he is a total hypocrit to speak up now in a way that makes it sound like he is opposed to a pay freeze. The media also contributes to the public's perception that the federal worker is worthless. Read any paper or listen to any news broadcast and you will read/hear about some problem with a federal program or employee. The federal workforce may be one million things done right and one thing done wrong, but the media will report the one thing that is wrong totally out of context. The media says don't blame the messenger, but I say when the messenger purposely presents information out of context with the intent to entertain rather than inform-blame them!

Posted by: cdierd1944 | December 7, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

The federal pay freeze is a symtom of a bigger problem. The public does not think highly of the federal workforce. They do not value the services that are provided every day. Every since the Reagan Adminisration, it has been part of the Republican playbook to demonize federal employees. Frank Wolf has been part of that process so he is a total hypocrit to speak up now in a way that makes it sound like he is opposed to a pay freeze. The media also contributes to the public's perception that the federal worker is worthless. Read any paper or listen to any news broadcast and you will read/hear about some problem with a federal program or employee. The federal workforce may be one million things done right and one thing done wrong, but the media will report the one thing that is wrong totally out of context. The media says don't blame the messenger, but I say when the messenger purposely presents information out of context with the intent to entertain rather than inform-blame them!

Posted by: cdierd1944 | December 7, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

The federal pay freeze is a symtom of a bigger problem. The public does not think highly of the federal workforce. They do not value the services that are provided every day. Every since the Reagan Adminisration, it has been part of the Republican playbook to demonize federal employees. Frank Wolf has been part of that process so he is a total hypocrit to speak up now in a way that makes it sound like he is opposed to a pay freeze. The media also contributes to the public's perception that the federal worker is worthless. Read any paper or listen to any news broadcast and you will read/hear about some problem with a federal program or employee. The federal workforce may be one million things done right and one thing done wrong, but the media will report the one thing that is wrong totally out of context. The media says don't blame the messenger, but I say when the messenger purposely presents information out of context with the intent to entertain rather than inform-blame them!

Posted by: cdierd1944 | December 7, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

The federal pay freeze is a symtom of a bigger problem. The public does not think highly of the federal workforce. They do not value the services that are provided every day. Every since the Reagan Adminisration, it has been part of the Republican playbook to demonize federal employees. Frank Wolf has been part of that process so he is a total hypocrit to speak up now in a way that makes it sound like he is opposed to a pay freeze. The media also contributes to the public's perception that the federal worker is worthless. Read any paper or listen to any news broadcast and you will read/hear about some problem with a federal program or employee. The federal workforce may be one million things done right and one thing done wrong, but the media will report the one thing that is wrong totally out of context. The media says don't blame the messenger, but I say when the messenger purposely presents information out of context with the intent to entertain rather than inform-blame them!

Posted by: cdierd1944 | December 7, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

The federal pay freeze is a symtom of a bigger problem. The public does not think highly of the federal workforce. They do not value the services that are provided every day. Every since the Reagan Adminisration, it has been part of the Republican playbook to demonize federal employees. Frank Wolf has been part of that process so he is a total hypocrit to speak up now in a way that makes it sound like he is opposed to a pay freeze. The media also contributes to the public's perception that the federal worker is worthless. Read any paper or listen to any news broadcast and you will read/hear about some problem with a federal program or employee. The federal workforce may be one million things done right and one thing done wrong, but the media will report the one thing that is wrong totally out of context. The media says don't blame the messenger, but I say when the messenger purposely presents information out of context with the intent to entertain rather than inform-blame them!

Posted by: cdierd1944 | December 7, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

I am tired of 'fed bashing' by Congress, the President, and the Washington Post that fanned the flames for a few weeks with bogus polls and inflamatory articles. The Post should remember that a lot of feds have subscriptions to their newspaper and I mean the print edition. Be careful of bashing customers.

Posted by: Sojouner | December 7, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Today i am on the side of gov't.

There is a recent report in the WaPo concerning unpaid taxes.

If memory serves me correct, there is an outstanding balance of $8 billion dollars owed by federal employees.

In order to be fair, only those who don't have an outstanding balance should get a pay raise, those owing taxes should have 20% deducted from their pay until their debt is satisfied.

Posted by: victorlove1 | December 7, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I totally agree with commentator3, federal govt employees shouldn't have to have a pay freeze if the RICH folk get a tax cut equal to low paying citizens!!! What's wrong with this picture? Congress wants to keep the tax cut because it affects their pockets, and those of their friends who contribute to their political campaigns.

Posted by: ksimms1 | December 7, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone elso notice that this two year freeze DOES NOT apply to legistlative employees. The idiots on the Hill need to have their wages frozen for the next decade since their legislation or lack- there-of has caused most of teh problems over the last decade.

Posted by: edblake04 | December 7, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

People don't realize that fed govt workers don't even get paid for OT unless there's a special project going on. We are constantly spending more time at work than we should to get our jobs done, and we're never even appreciated. It's ridiculous, and I know at the agency I work for, morale is horrifically LOW. Nobody feels appreciated, some people won't see any raises this year thanks to the pay freeze, and MOST fed employees don't make $100,000 a year!!

Posted by: ksimms1 | December 7, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Federal workers do not feel lonesome. Join the crowd to be dumped on, teachers and any other under paid public employee. In Md most teachers have not had a raise in 3 years and now they want to gut the pension system. Just stand in line and bend over, they will get to you. Pretty soon your teacher contract will say you will pay us so much a year to work for the school system. Feds I hate to deliver bad news but if I where you I would either look for new work or get in a bunker so the crap does not hit to hard. You can always go on welfare like some teachers can. It is so lovely to be appreciated. I may be a little deaf but I do not remember John Bainer say that congress will take a 10% pay cut. Hell that would be the cost of keeping his hair up for a year. In MD I did not hear a word about the legislature taking any pain. it s time for public funded campaigns and the end of lobbyist who own the people we elect. The American people are pons in the big money game.

Posted by: harold551 | December 7, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I would be fine with a pay freeze, if it included our members of Congress and their staff. They could take a 10% reduction in pay and still be just fine financially. If they think they aren't getting paid enough, they can always quit and look for a job elsewhere, like the rest of the country. Also, if they want to freeze the pay of the federal workers, it should be for everyone; Congress, staffers, the President and the military. I think it's ridiculous we will freeze federal pay, but give millionaires tax breaks. If you're going to freeze wages, then tax those making over a million, not $250K.

Posted by: tfisher1 | December 7, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

The lonely federal employee did not create this mess. Congress did along with George Bush. It is time for the lobbyist that run this country to be put out of business. It is time for publicly funded campaigns. Until this happens and we Americans demand it or we through them all out till we the people gain control. The poor public employees of this country and I mean all will get screwed each and every time. It is time for Americans to unit as a people not as a fringe group AKA Tea Party or what ever they are and force congress to do what we want. Again the only way it is going to get fixed is no lobbyist and only public funded campaigns. Each election would be based on population of a district and each candidate would get the exact same amount of money. The law would be simple, no PAC or any other contribution. If you think what happened in the last election is going to have any effect, you are sadly mistaken. These idiots you just elected have been bought off before they are sworn in. PLEASE, LET'S JOIN TOGETHER AND DEMAND THE TWO SIMPLE THINGS, NO LOBBYIST AND PUBLICLY FUNDED CAMPAIGNS.

Posted by: harold551 | December 7, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Presidents and Congress have always used the Federal workforce as scapegoats for "balancing the budget". It's because the Federal workforce is a captive audience. Shameful. Remember when Carter did away with the Civil Service Retirement System? It took years for civil servants to recover from that. Remember the double dipping act which penalized the lowest earners which were mainly women? That was a horrible act. I really believed that Pres Obama would never do this again but he continues to fold under pressure.

Posted by: pkbishop1 | December 7, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Morale is low. I live paycheck to paycheck as a third year gov't attorney. 70% of my net salary goes to rent and student loans. I need a raise...a big one.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | December 7, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

It is a HOT MESS that we live in a country where the people in power are the ones passing legislation that mostly benefits them and their wealthy friends. They want to freeze my pay, but leave cut taxes in place that helped cause this catastrophy in the first place....which only adds to the deficit that they claim is SOOO important. Give me a break!!! By the time Congress is done with this country, there won't be a middle class anymore.

Posted by: kthmasaum | December 7, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Adding insult to injury - the proposed 2% reduction in payroll taxes won't apply to federal workers in the old retirement system. They pay into CSRS instead of Social Security.

Posted by: bdj325 | December 7, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

"Remember when Carter did away with the Civil Service Retirement System?"

No. CSRS was replaced by FERS in 1987, and covered those hired from 1984 on. Ronald Reagan was President at the time.

Posted by: bdj325 | December 7, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I've been a Fed for 20+ years & my spouse for 25+. It is tiring to constantly be told to do more with less, be demonized, be lied to and be expected to make things happen instantly. The Hill doesn't understand how long it takes to implement the laws they make or the programs they invent. We don't have a budget for FY 2011 but we are expected to write program criteria, implement actions and have measurable results by Sept. 30! I want some of what they're smoking.

Sign me, Exhausted

Posted by: Arggg | December 7, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Makes sense.

Pay freeze for the people who are helping government run.

Big tax cut for the people earning a million a year.

Wot a country!

Posted by: filfeit | December 7, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

In the spirit of shared sacrifice, I would like to nominate Mitch McConnell, garnished with DeMint...

Posted by: GeraldWhite | December 7, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Could you please get the Post to cover the question about whether and why the payroll tax cut does or does not apply to federal, state, and local employees under different systems than social security? Leaving CSRS--and especially underpaid state employees--out of the payroll tax cut is far more offensie than the federal pay freeze. At least everybody knows about the pay freeze.

Posted by: jimtitus1 | December 7, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I'm a lifelong Democrat and in 2008, I thought, finally, we've got a president who's not just a moderate Republican in disguise (like Clinton & Carter). How wrong I was! Obama has lost my support. Election day, 2012, I'm staying home. (If Palin wins I'm moving to Canada.)

Posted by: risandy | December 7, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

It isn't even a real pay freeze. They still get raises, bonuses, and promotions. How about growing a pair and actually starting to cut the dead weight?

Posted by: getjiggly1 | December 7, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

As a federal employee I rather not have my pay frozen for two years, but if the spineless bunch in DC can't make this tiny restriction in the growth in spending, the country is doomed.

Posted by: truth2 | December 7, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

How about us on Social Security and Federal Pensions? We got no cost of living raises last year and again this year. The government said there was no inflation, so we get no increase in our pensions. What a crock! I wonder where these goons shop. It sure as hell isn't the Wall Mart or gas station I go to. What a bunch of nincompoops!

Posted by: OldCoot1 | December 7, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

I recently retired on CSRS-Offset after 30 years in Federal service, including Army time. I go way back to pre-FERS and pre-Civil Service Reform Act. I basically had to retire when a new manager began bullying and abusing me for his own mistakes. While I agree with many of the comments above, I think people must keep in mind that it is, for all intents and purposes, impossible to get rid of a poor-performing Federal employee after the probationary period of one year. Of course, people can point to counselling and performance improvement plans and supposedly easier termination procedures, but arbitrators do not go along with terminating employees. Termination is referred to in the arbitration trade as "industrial capital punishment." Actually, it is imposed less often. The person above who referred to one million good things unnoticed but one bad thing will be picked up and broadcast is, I think, correct overall. But that is sort of how life is in general. In the 30 years I worked, I came to the view and I told younger employees they should also come to the view that, if you are not hearing anything about your work, you are doing a good job. While the people behind the million good things will get nothing but salary and benefits, the one person behind the bad thing will get the same. There are strong institutional pressures to treat everyone the same and there are really no rewards for treating good employees well or bad employees less well. Until this is changed, you should really not expect the general public to have a different point of view of Federal employees. To close with an extreme example, 20 or 30 years ago, a Federal employee in the Detroit area murdered his wife. He copped a plea to manslaughter and got work-release from the trial judge. He went back to his job; the Agency terminated him; and an arbitrator ordered the Agency to take him back as a full-time employee. Upheld on appeal.

Posted by: fedworker4 | December 7, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Agree with earlier poster who said "Could you please get the Post to cover the question about whether and why the payroll tax cut does or does not apply to federal, state, and local employees under different systems than social security? Leaving CSRS--and especially underpaid state employees--out of the payroll tax cut is far more offensive than the federal pay freeze. At least everybody knows about the pay freeze."

perhaps OPM could consider a matching deduction for CSRS employees. The freeze seemed inequitable, especially given the fiscal irresponsibility of the huge tax cuts for those making over $250k . Now longstanding fed employees get singled out again and lose another 2% while colleagues in the same offices get the tax benefit . We shouldn't be excluded simply because the administration found it logistically simpler to make a FICA adjustment than an income tax adjustment, which would have been more equitable. Shared sacrifice is the name of the game. This was not well thought out and seems to doubly penalize certain workers.

Posted by: wyre1 | December 8, 2010 12:52 AM | Report abuse

keep in mind..with the payroll reduction being proposed, that CSRS fed employess wont participate..again, we are screwed, blued and tattooed....mission accomplished.

Posted by: OldFed1 | December 8, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

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