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  • Obama Touts Federal Worker Pay Freeze That Isn't


    President Obama offered few concrete proposals for promoting fiscal responsibility during his “Twitter town hall” on Wednesday. One that he did mention was his drive to freeze federal employee salaries, though he offered the measure as an example of an effort to “make these adjustments that are necessary during these difficult fiscal times…in a way that preserves collective bargaining rights.”

    “We froze federal pay for federal workers for two years,” Obama claimed. “Now that wasn’t real popular, as you might imagine, among federal workers,” the president added.

    But even federal workers acknowledged at the time that salaries would not be frozen under the plan. A spokesperson for the American Federation of Government Employees union told the Federal Times that “the news that step increases will not be affected takes some of the sting out of the decision,” in the Times’s phrasing.

    In fact, under the measure the president dubbed a “freeze,” the Federal Times estimated that 1.1 million federal employees will receive pay bumps totaling more than $2.5 billion in additional salary through the standard “step increases” federal pay system.

    Regularly scheduled step increases for the 1.4 million General Schedule employees — who make up two-thirds of the civilian work force — will continue. The size of those increases ranges from 2.6 percent to 3.3 percent and by law kick in every one, two or three years, depending on an employee’s time in grade.

    In other words, seniority will grant federal employees continued pay raises under Obama’s plan. That fact alone should give Americans pause: simply by virtue of their continued employment – i.e. with almost no regard for their performance – federal workers will continue to receive raises. As the Heritage Foundation has repeatedly pointed out, any real reform effort will have to address the skewed incentives of General Schedule pay system.

    In any case, the president did not implement a salary “freeze” in any meaningful sense of the term; salaries for more than a million federal workers will likely rise.

    Leave aside that reforming public worker pay “in a way that preserves collective bargaining rights” is a near-meaningless proposition when discussing federal workers, since most of those workers cannot currently bargain collectively for pay or benefits. That was, of course, the chief irony of President Obama criticizing government union reform efforts in Wisconsin: the president is in charge of roughly two million federal workers who have fewer collective bargaining “rights” than unionized Wisconsin workers will under the new law in that state.

    The more central problem with President Obama’s claim that he froze federal workers’ pay for two years is that it’s not really true. To his credit, the president did slow the growth of federal pay increases, and in his speech seemed to have a grasp of the rationale for a pay freeze, but under the plan implemented late last year, federal salaries will be by no means static.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities, Scribe [slideshow_deploy]

    21 Responses to Obama Touts Federal Worker Pay Freeze That Isn't

    1. Paul says:

      As the article said, it is not true. Even if it were true, if we raise the debt limit to 16.2 trillion as he requested, it is a drop in the bucket. If we paid off the debt at one million dollars a day it would take us 44 thousand years to pay it off…and that is with no interest and no new spending for the next 44K years.

      We have to stop letting this President and all the other poliiticians in Washington, spin us into bankruptcy. This President has absolutely no clue on how to solve our fiscal problems and I am tired of the lame stream media allowing him to get away with it.

      • John says:

        The President does have a clue. This is what he wants to do. destroy the United States as we know it and on its ashes build a socialistic government with him as the great leader. He is smart, but he is not honest! He has been telling us half-truths, and in some case an out right lie. The sub-prime real estate loans causes the crash in the financial market through out the world. He as a community organizer and ACORN are the ones that sued the banks to force them to make these loans. The bank executives told him that some of these people cannot pay these loans back. Obama said well maybe some of them should not pay these loans back. He got his wish, some of the people did not pay the loans back. A lot of them did not pay the loans back. Obama had help along the way. Past President Clinton loosen the requirements to get these loans four different times. The current Governor of New York State was one of the people who loosen the rule to get these loans when he was the Security of HUD. Now various people in the Democratic Party are taking the banks executives to court for making these loans which they were ordered to make!

      • Mark says:

        Wait that was an Article? That looks more like an opinion blog post to me. Debt problems are real but quoting Sarah Palin's lines "Lame Stream Media" kind of makes you look foolish when you're reading an opinion blog post.

        There are facts out there for sure. like this %presidents have raised debt in past: Reagan 186%, Bush II 72%, Bush I 54% (Only served 4 yrs), Clinton 41%, Obama 23% (but still early for him) (source: CBO)

    2. @MashUser says:

      It's all meaningless anyway. You could fire 50% of all federal workers and still have 97.5% of the Federal Budget to contend with. With that in mind, what type of effect do you think a 2, 3, or even 5 year pay freeze will have on Federal spending? Not a whole heck of a lot. The fact of the matter is that Federal employees account for an extraordinary small portion of the budget, and that these freezes, whether real or not, do nothing but hurt millions of Americans most of whom take great pride in their work for the American people.

    3. George Colgrove, VA says:

      Feds also retain the ability to get in-seat promotions and merit bonus payments or merit step increases (when their pay is not fully funded). Upon the announcement of the "pay freeze", many feds got these in lue of not getting the COLA (cost of living adjustment). The only thing Obama got rid of was the COLA. Something feds have been getting for the two to three years while they were telling social security recipients that there was no COLA for them. The COLA Obama got rid of was 1.1% and likely would have been lower still for the next fiscal year. In short, Obama got rid of something that was diminishing anyway. Like everything this guy does, he makes mountains out of ant-hills and his abiding media goes right along with it. Obama did nothing with this "pay freeze" and Heritage, you are being to kind by saying he had slowed the growth. Maybe he did for the few entry-level positions, but he really didn't get control of this beast.

    4. Peter says:

      As a federal worker trying to be a conservative I am perplexed by the continued Heritage antipathy toward many sectors of the federal workforce. As you rightly point out federal workers have far fewer 'rights' than the whining state employees of Wisconsin. And by most accepted measures there are far fewer federal employees than anytime in the past 50 years. See the link below for one assessment: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/federal-eye/2010
      The problem of the debt, deficit or whatever else you want to call it is so clearly NOT a federal employee issue. Yes, there can and should be reform of the pay system to reward better workers and not just 'clock-punchers' and I have no problem accepting the pay freeze for some period. But for Heritage which I usually respect, to continually demean and blame the pay of the federal workforce for our problems is just plain wrong. ENTITLEMENTS…say it again 3 times. They totally overwhelm any fiscal calculations you want to make about balancing the budget now and certainly in the future.

      • George Colgrove, VA says:

        Federal workers produce the base of the federal budget – Baseline budgeting. GS13's on up (also some GS12's) are responsible for the program they "manage". They produce the budget for their program or portion of their program. Last year's budget is increased by a percentage and increased by statutes and other initiatives. The next level up (again federal workers) reviews it and passes it along with all other budgets produced by thier federal worker subordinates. There may be additional increases made at each subsequent level up the chain of command. The budget is then passed through the SES's on up to the Director of the agency or department. At each level up the chain, each lower budget transform from a detailed justification to a line item for the higher level budget. It gets to a point where DHS becomes a line item with a few subitems.

      • George Colgrove, VA says:

        (Continued from prior reply) For example the cost of record keeping gets burried quickly and if there was purposeful waste injected in that, it will be lost. The only thing congress does is vote for new legislation which is small in comparison to the day to day budget. Federal workers are the cornerstone of federal abuse both in thier high pay and benefits and in the spending they author. Also when a congress member needs an estimate for a new program, it is likely a federal worker who produced that estimate.

    5. Bobbie says:

      The president shows what he protects and it isn't freedom and independence of citizens. It's all government!

    6. Dannie Percifull, TN says:

      We freeze federal employees pay but continue to pay millions to support the AFGE that collects dues from employees. What is wrong with this picture. My tax dollars paying for a unions expenses.

    7. Lloyd Scallan says:

      When are we going to realize Obama in not capable of telling the truth! He is an outright liar that will stop at nothing, including the truth, to get his agenda passed to "transiform" this nation into socialism.

      • Roger S. says:

        Would you call him a pathological liar? — I sure would! — It is a form of illness.
        Only, he DOES know what he's doing. AND, he means it; the lying, I mean!

    8. David R. says:

      As another conservative federal employee, I get tired of hearing conservatives tell half-truths because they are convenient. America deserves better. The pay freeze was real. What a lot of people don't realize is that it doesn't just effect pay during these "hard years," but will continue indefinitely. After 2 years federal employees can expect to make about 3% less than they would have had the freeze not happened. When the COLA increases begin again, they will start at the current year level. They won't replace the COLA lost in the intervening years. The effect will be that the GS scale will permanently be 3% lower than it would have been. For me it means $3000 less per year from now until I retire.

      • Jeremy says:

        No offense, but, seriously: "$3000 less per year" ? Oh, boo-hoo. There are thousands of people out there who get $0 per year. 3% is not a catastrophic decline in pay. You adjust your budget, cut back, and manage it. Then again, as a federal employee working in that leviathan, "cut back" isn't really in your culture's lexicon, is it?

      • George Colgrove, VA says:

        David,
        Because of the ineptitude of the federal workforce, the average American household incomes went down by 23% (Federal reserve estimate). Feds on average earn 2x what the private sector earns and in nearly all occupation classes, feds do far better than their private sector counterparts. Are there exceptions? Yes – but few. You complain about loosing a permanent 3%. Try complaining to the people your co-workers put out of work due to bad government policies, programs, waste and so on. Try complaining to us in the private sector who have ALSO not seen pay raises and are ALSO suffering the same permanent effect albeit at a higher percentage. You are in your job at our pleasure. At least show some gratitude you get what you do when most of your paycheck is not funded.

        • red says:

          That is where you are wrong. If I worked outside, I would get more in pay. People do not get paid as much as their private sector counterparts. An federal attorney makes much less than a private attorney. A legal secretary makes less than one on the outside. Get your facts straight before you say this. Stop listening to your local politician. After all, they are the ones that are promised pay raises every year despite the economy (it's in the constitution). They made us the scape goats.

    9. AD-RtR/OS! says:

      But…but…slowing the growth in DC-speak is a cut!
      He cut their pay!
      Oh, the humanity.
      How will his staff survive just making 6-figures?

    10. guest says:

      Remember if you are getting a step increase past step 7 you have already waited 3 years. If you freeze steps that means some would have to wait 5 years? As for perfomance, you must meet minimum standards. Also, you can be outstanding and still get the same step. Anti government worker comments always want to state that you get the step even if performance is minimum, but what about outstanding workers, that is never mentioned. I did receive a step and outstanding rating but if there was a hard freeze I would have gone 3 years with no step increase and have to wait at least 2 more years. Is that fair?

      One last thing Obama does not have the authority to freeze step increases. Congress would have to change the law.

    11. Bobbie says:

      Does your less pay bring you down to 40k David R? Our income hasn't seen an increase in over 5 years, one big reason is WE PAY YOU!!!!!…and not by choice.

    12. Steve says:

      I am a rich federal employee making 67,000 a year before taxes and other deductions…..family of 5, house and car payment, just like everyone else.

      I have a BA and an MA…..15 years of experience….how much should I be paid? Just because we choose to work for America is no reason to expect us to work for free. I already make less then my peers, Cops in my city make 80,000, fireman make 70,000..teachers make 52,000…they only work 9 months of the year.

      Not sure what the issue is…yup no cost of living raise, OK i'll do my part.

    13. Pingback: The Economy, the White House Says, Is Vastly Improved! « American Elephants

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