November 30, 2010


According to Brian Beutler of the aptly-named Talking Points Memo, "everybody" hates President Obama's largely symbolic federal worker's pay freeze.

Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity!

The early reviews of President Obama's plan to freeze federal worker pay are in -- and it gets a resounding "F" from just about everybody outside of GOP leadership.

Michael Linden, a budget expert at the liberal Center for American Progress, said the plan is small potatoes that risks driving away valuable civil servants with little budgetary upside.

It is important to understand what Beutler and his kindred view as everybody. One cannot know precisely what he means (I doubt he does, either), but suspect "everybody" probably includes the following:

  • federal government workers and their unions
  • state government workers and their unions
  • municipal government workers and their unions
  • left-leaning pundits, bloggers, and journalists
  • left leaning think tanks
  • leftist academics
  • anyone so designated/appointed by George Soros

The "freeze" does not affect the pay of the nation's military servicemen. It does not prevent federal government employees from getting a raise by moving to the next pay grade. It does not touch bonuses awarded to federal employees.

It does nothing to curtail the government that Demcrats have created, which is the largest and most bloated government in American history, with the highest number of employees making more than $150,000/year in American history.

"Everybody" in Beutler's insular little world are his fellow big government extremists that look to personally profit from government bloat.

The radical left wing "everybody" doesn't include the small businessman, workers, managers, specialists, technicians and engineers that power this nation's economy in corporations and shops. It doesn't include doctors, farmers, students, and middle class families that are being crushed by the greed of statists.

The problem with Obama's "freeze" isn't that it is too ambitious, it is that it isn't close to being ambitious enough. We need to reduce the number of people working for the federal government and send them back to the private sector where they can add to the economy.

I read a comment somewhere yesterday (I wish I could remember where) that encapsulated the concept perfectly.

"All non-essential government workers are to stay home from work today... and every day after."

Government should be a service, not an unsustainable liability. It's too bad we can't get "everybody" to agree to that.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at November 30, 2010 12:21 PM

Speaking as an overpaid government employee:

1. No valuable civil servants are going to be driven away by this action. Most civil servants are smart enough to know that their options in the private sector are much more limited.

2. The cost of total government employment will go up by more than enough to offset this "savings" because it does nothing to cap new hiring or force federal agencies to reduce staff.

3. This is just a dog and pony show, with no pony.

4. I asked around and cannot find any civil servents willing to quit over this. Not getting a future raise is not the same thing as getting a pay cut.

So I agree that Obama gets an "F" for this effort, but not because I am in favor of civil servent pay raises.

For what it is worth, my office was told months ago that our bonuses and raises were capped at 1% this year. No one stormed out and quit.

Posted by: Professor Hale at November 30, 2010 01:24 PM

As a federal employee, I welcome the pay freeze, but think it doesn't go far enough. Bonuses, in-kind promotions and in-grsade step increases are not covered by the freeze, as they should be. Congress and their staff, postal workers, and federal judges and their staff aren't covered by this freeze, and they should be.

Count me as one civil servant who welcomes the pay freeze and wishes it went further to cut costs.

Tarheel Repub Out!

Posted by: Tarheel Repub at November 30, 2010 03:19 PM

Also as a fed employee, albeit close to retirement, this is not much of a pill to swallow but it's an empty gesture of and by itself; better were this one element of a more comprehensive plan to cut back government expenditure and reduce staff.

Posted by: zhombre at November 30, 2010 05:40 PM

Poor federal employees. We all feel so bad for them. Try being part of the real world where there haven't been any raises for several years. My spouse has been without one for over 5 years now. But, still paying taxes to support bloated government and overpaid bureaucrats....

Posted by: Specter at November 30, 2010 06:22 PM

I lold at "valuable civil servants". That's as funny as "upscale barbecue shack".

Posted by: Phelps at November 30, 2010 07:38 PM

Another govt employee here. No problem with having the pay raise freeze. For those who say it's mostly symbolic- ok, but it's a start. I agree with the post above that it needs to be part of much larger effort to freeze all programs, and begin reducing and eliminating programs. Again, post above talking about freezing new hires for a while makes sense.

Posted by: styrgwillidar at November 30, 2010 07:54 PM

The reason we have so many GS employees is that Clinton cut the military back so far they had to hire civilians to fill billets to keep DOD running. As far as programs, two to start with, DOE, which has NEVER done anything real to reduce our dependency on Oil, but has a budget of $20B a year, and the TVA, which was to electrify the Tennessee Valley (which was completed in the early 1940s)...

Posted by: Old NFO at November 30, 2010 08:10 PM

@Old NFO - partially true, sir. But it began in the early '70s when the military budget was cut by converting shore billets to sand crab positions. I could have gotten out in April of 1970 as an E5 and come back to work the next day as a GS-7.
Now, having been retired USN since 1990, I gotta say that, when I saw the headlines about the federal pay freeze, my first reaction was "Great - that's a start, if and only if they include ALL federal workers, from POTUS down to the GS-2 clerk-typist at the local IRS office." Like that's gonna happen anytime soon.

Posted by: MichigammeDave at December 1, 2010 08:45 AM

Like driving cattle away from the feed trough. Aint gonna happen. Crybabies finally get a taste of what civilians go through on a yearly basis and they just cant take it anymore. Right. Grow a pair government pw.

Posted by: lazrtex at December 1, 2010 08:52 AM

Old NFO,
The problem is not that one president or another made cuts to the military or shifted the workforce between uniformed to civil service to contractor and back again.

The problem is that despite a 50% cut in forces, there has been a doubling of the staff and the functions they do. No one at the Pentagon will cut his own staff, no matter how many programs or forces get cut. A lot of people idolize the military so they cannot see that DOD and the Services are just as much part of the bloated bureaucracy as the Dept of Education.

Posted by: Professor Hale at December 1, 2010 12:19 PM

This isn't anywhere near enough of a freeze, it certainly isn't a cut and its all smoke and mirrors misdirection away from the issues around QE2 and the Federal Reserve and the collapse of the dollar value. Promising not to spend money you don't have is not something that should get applause.

Posted by: OHSHAWN at December 1, 2010 04:45 PM

Nobody minds their neighbor's ox getting gored.
Federal employees lose 0.6% of their take-home pay (1.4% minus taxes), not a big deal. Your taxes going up 5 or 10% - well, you just need to "grow a pair" and stop living in your "insular little world."

Obama can lay off government employees, but he won't waive the bureaucracy. Instead, industry will be forced to do the job governmentwas doing with regulatory oversight- for example, food inspection, and you get taxed via higher prices. But anyone who claims is pre-defined as living in an "insular little world".

Anyone who thinks TSA would be better, just because it is run a private non-responsive monopoly instead of the government monopoly is crazy. Do you get great service from your cell phone/internet/insurance/health care company now? Why do you think they will listen to you any more as they take over government jobs?

Posted by: dustydog at December 3, 2010 11:03 AM

Still another Fed bureaucrat here. As a sacrifice, this is negligible. Since it's merely forgoing a planned increase, it may not even qualify, truly, as a sacrifice. As restraints in planned program spending increases aren't "cuts", as Democrats would always have us believe.

The real money and savings would be in reducing staffing, and trimming thte bloated management down. Freezing hiring for a couple years (of course, there would be waivers, and thus abuse) would really let some GS-14 deadwood shuffle off into retirment, and they need not be replaced.

That is a funny concept: valuable civil servants. I work in a too large public affairs blob, so in my environment, there is no such thing at all.


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