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Federal Employees Upset with Obama Deficit Plan. A Blind Squirrel Rejoices.

Uh oh. There are people that are unhappy with President Obama’s deficit reduction and jobs bill and the group may surprise you.

Federal employee unions lashed out at President Barack Obama’s proposal Monday to make civilian federal workers contribute more of their pay to their retirement plans as part of a proposal to trim budget deficits.

We don’t give Obama much praise around here because, well, because there isn’t much that he does right. But in this case, he is right, proving the ol’ adage of a “blind squirrel finds a nut once in awhile.”

The President is asking for Federal workers to contribute an additional 1.2 percent to their retirement funds which will be phased in over three years.

There are some key points to make here.

First, according to the White House, Federal workers contribute 33% to their retirement funds, while private workers contribute 45%. The additional 1.2% contribution from Federal workers will help with the budget deficit assuming (and this is a huge assumption) the saved money is not spent elsewhere.

Secondly, Federal workers make more money from comparable jobs than their private sector counterparts.

Thirdly, Federal workers are nearly impossible to get rid of – even for incompetency.

To some extent, this is the “fairness” argument coming back to bite the workers in their unionized butt. Unions have long argued that the “wealthy” pay their “fair share” of taxes (even though the wealthy are paying more in percentages and dollar amounts than the average union worker.) Yet when it comes down to the fairness of being on par with private sector jobs, the unions scream “foul!”

Union officials said the higher employee contributions — which would not result in additional benefits — amounted to a tax on families earning less than $250,000, which Obama has said he would not support.

Brian DeWyngaert, chief of staff for the American Federation of Government Employees, said the move would also take billions of dollars out of the economy.

“This is simply just an out-and-out way to raise some additional revenue,” said DeWyngaert.

Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said in a statement Monday that the union “strongly opposes” the idea and that it would continue to lobby the deficit reduction committee to steer clear of additional cuts for federal workers.

We have long argued people are for raising taxes and revenues when it does not affect their pocketbooks. It seems it is always a good idea to raise revenues through taxes on “the other guy.” Or to cut benefits on “the other guy.” But when it comes to the very “shared sacrifice” the unions demand of others, they don’t want to be a part of that.

Democrats and liberals will fight against this provision because it affects their base. Unions and Federal workers pour millions into the coffers of the Democrats and their candidates. Elected representatives will do anything to try and protect that money flow.

“They’ve already made a contribution toward the deficit reduction package and I think it’s wrong to chip away now at their retirement plans,” said Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, a Maryland Democrat. “This is something we feel pretty strongly about.”

(We talked a little about Cardin here.)

But the Southern Maryland [Rep. Steny H. Hoyer – D] lawmaker also noted the proposed change for federal workers, and said he would work to make sure that whatever measure ultimately advances in Congress “does not disproportionately impact” federal employees.

It is always about whose ox is getting gored.



2 Responses to “Federal Employees Upset with Obama Deficit Plan. A Blind Squirrel Rejoices.”

  1. Plutodog says:

    The thing about these contributions — and how they irritate some folks in the knee-jerk fashion — is that they are a part of the total bargain, a part of the full compensation negotiated. It doesn’t help to determine if the government worker is getting over-compensated with a “contribution” from the employer unless you know what their total compensation is compared to comparable private and other public sector jobs.

    Also, sometimes these contributions prove cheaper for the government employer than actually forking out the equivalent in salary.

    Finally, these public workers are workers, and some folks can’t seem to separate these workers from the government or policies that they’re really ticked at. Public workers do what they’re hired to do like any private worker.

    Keeping those three things in mind–really factoring them in–would lower the unnecessary, unhelpful heat quite a heap, IMO.

  2. AAfterwit says:

    their total compensation is compared to comparable private and other public sector jobs.

    The sources cited in the article on compensation are based on total compensation, not just salaries.

    Public workers do what they’re hired to do like any private worker.

    No they don’t. A private worker has the ability to affect the bottom line of the company. The actions and decisions of a private employee can and does affect whether the business stays afloat or goes under.

    That is not the same with the public sector worker. When the public sector worker screws up or makes a bad decision, more money is funneled to the department.

    Another example is end of year spending. Have you ever dealt with the government near the end of their fiscal year? They look for things to spend money on. It doesn’t matter what, just as long as the money is being spent. The reason being is if they do not spend all of their budget, the department may not get the same allocation of resources or even an increase in the next budget.

    Finally, as we noted previously, the turnover for a public sector worker is much less than their private sector counterpart. Getting rid of a underperforming government worker is an incredible amount of work. That should not be the case.

    The government should be run like a business to be as fiscally responsible as a private industry. It is not.

    Finally, the post itself was simply noting that while government workers wants others to pay more, they are unwilling to pony up some of their compensation. While we do not begrudge them for wanting to keep what they can, it is ironic to us that while they are make more in compensation than their private counterparts, they don’t believe they should be doing anything.

    It is always the other guy who should pay more and do more.

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