Home > Obama administration > The Federal employee pay-freeze scam

The Federal employee pay-freeze scam

There’s something really disingenuous–insulting even–to say that you’re going to freeze wages on Federal workers, in order to help cut the budget deficit.  Hell, even the New York Times sees through the sham:

The pay freeze will save $2 billion in the current fiscal year that ends in September 2011, $28 billion over five years and more than $60 billion over 10 years, according to Jeffrey Zients, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and the government’s chief performance officer. That represents just a tiny dent in a $1.3 trillion annual deficit but it offers a symbolic gesture toward public anger over unemployment, the anemic economic recovery and rising national debt.

In the same vein of aggressive cost-cutting, I propose the Federal government turn off all the lights at every government building when not in use, along with the draconian Sheryl Crow-method of cost-savings: how about using only one square of toilet paper when using the toilet?  Surely these suggestions will put a dent into our massive budget deficit.

All joking aside, the reason why the President’s proposal is a bust is because, like all things Obama, it’s presented under the assumption that the majority of Americans are complete morons, because Federal workers’ salaries are at their highest levels ever:

At a time when workers’ pay and benefits have stagnated, federal employees’ average compensation has grown to more than double what private sector workers earn, a USA TODAY analysis finds.Federal workers have been awarded bigger average pay and benefit increases than private employees for nine years in a row. The compensation gap between federal and private workers has doubled in the past decade.Federal civil servants earned average pay and benefits of $123,049 in 2009 while private workers made $61,051 in total compensation, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Indeed, Federal employment is a booming industry in the age of Obama:

The number of federal workers earning $150,000 or more a year has soared tenfold in the past five years and doubled since President Obama took office, a USA TODAY analysis finds. 


Federal salaries have grown robustly in recent years, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Office of Personnel Management data. Key findings:

Government-wide raises. Top-paid staff have increased in every department and agency. The Defense Department had nine civilians earning $170,000 or more in 2005, 214 when Obama took office and 994 in June.

•Long-time workers thrive. The biggest pay hikes have gone to employees who have been with the government for 15 to 24 years. Since 2005, average salaries for this group climbed 25% compared with a 9% inflation rate.

•Physicians rewarded. Medical doctors at veterans hospitals, prisons and elsewhere earn an average of $179,500, up from $111,000 in 2005.

Narrow the timeline from a decade to five years, and the growth is startling:

Obviously, freezing Federal wages at these levels does little to seriously reduce our budget deficit.  In fact, one can reasonably assume that President Obama isn’t really serious about our fiscal problems at all.  All this does is give the President the opportunity to throw the ball back in the Republicans’ court, something to the effect of: See what I proposed? If you guys have any better ideas, I’d like to see it. 

This of course makes for good copy, and would have the national punditocracy tingly for POTUS again, and if there’s one thing Obama is good consistent at is giving the media a shiny new object to play with and salivate over.  Which is, of course, all this proposed salary freeze is–nothing more than a distraction, so nobody should be taking it seriously.

(Hat tip: Zero Hedge)


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