Fed Pay Freeze: Be careful what you ask for

UPDATE: Sen. Orrin Hatch just issued a press release rather grudingly approving of Obama’s move.

Grudgingly, because he thinks a lot more of you federal workers SHOULD BE FIRED.

I presume those Utah federal workers who are also members of the Tea Party will be all about this, even if it means you get fired?  OK, maybe not. Just saying…

Original blog:

President Obama froze federal wages today, and needless to say, the love is not there.

I’m looking at the comments on the Washington Post’s story (click here)  announcing Obama’s pay freeze of federal civilian workers (including DOD but NOT troops) and I am gobsmacked. Listen to the Obama haters whine, but what did they expect?

I was equally gobsmacked at an email I got from someone who is apparently a federal worker. He headed the email with a report of the freeze, and in his message told his entire email address book “Send this to your friends who voted for Obama…tell them, here is your “change”.

Well, yeah, I wrote him back. Obama critics — of whom this writer obviously is one — have been screaming and ranting about deficits. You cut deficits by cutting federal spending. There will be no more stimuli, no more TARPS, a tax increase on anyone, even billionaires, is simply unheard of, God forbid we should stop fighting wars that we never pay for (or raise taxes to pay for them), Social Security recipients have already been frozen, what’s left?

Wages. The vast majority of federal money pays wages. If you say “cut back spending that isn’t wages,” you will have a very hard time cutting back anything, because all spending, ultimately, goes into someone else’s pocket.

Most I don’t know what the pay scales are around the IRS or at Hill AFB, but whatever they are, I see no reason why they can’t eat a pay freeze. Plenty of private sector companies have frozen their wages, or cut back employees, or both. As the S-E’s executive editor said in a column he wrote a couple of weeks ago, the Standard-Examiner has not been immune to any of this.

Many state workers have had to deal with pay freezes for several years already, or seen their benefits cut, or their insurance co-pays rise, or all of the above.

This pay freeze with save $2 billion this year and closer to $28 billion over five years because it will hold back all pay scales, effectively reducing the overall wages paid federal employees forever.

Several critics in the story I linked to say that’s not much, won’t make a dent, and so on — but you have to start somewhere, and as Sen. Everett Dirkson once said “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking real money.”

Will this hurt federal employees?

Not to be cruel, but if losing a 1.5 percent pay raise in a time of zero or 1 percent inflation puts you into immediate fiscal trouble, you need to sit down and learn how to manage your budget. Only a fool spends money he doesn’t even earn yet, and if you have been spending based on projected wage increases, this is a good wake-up call.

I see where some Republicans in Congress are applauding the move. As well they should, seeing as how they’ve been calling for even more stringent cuts in pay and employment levels.

Sen. Orrin Hatch wants to cut the numbers of federal workers by 20 percent, for example. Who will he fire?

We shall see.

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5 Responses to Fed Pay Freeze: Be careful what you ask for

  1. Mark Shenefelt says:

    Senator Hatch called for a federal wage freeze in his column a couple of weeks ago. I’m waiting for a new Hatch press release praising Obama for doing so. No plans to hold my breath.

    The wage-freeze story posted on Standard.net today was quickly met by a chorus of attacks from local Obama-blasters who merely used the headline to launch old-new \lying Kenyan\ -style complaints.

    Even when Obama does something they scream for, he gets no commendation. I’m not surprised.

  2. Charles Trentelman says:

    Geeze Mark, I thought you knew how this worked:
    Obama Haters demand Obama does “A”

    Obama says, “OK, I’ll do “A”‘

    Obama haters say “How dare you do “A” this proves you are evil!”

  3. Bob Becker says:

    And as I recall, the fed pay freeze was one recommendation of the bi-partisan budget cutting commission President Obama appointed — which commission Republicans called for until President Obama agreed, at which Republicans in the House and Senate refused to take part in.

  4. Karen Graham says:

    I could support a federal pay freeze if one of the cuts also include abolishing the Bush tax cuts and getting it back to the way it was during the Clinton administration when we were actally starting to pay the deficit down. We could also save a big chunk of money by getting out of Afghanistan and Iraq.

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