Chris Edwards

Federal Pay Freeze...in Britain

With the government running huge deficits and average family incomes stagnating in the recession, it is unseemly that federal worker pay continues to soar. I’ve called for an immediate freeze to federal worker pay, at least until the economy recovers and private worker pay starts catching up.

Families vs. Milk Farmers

Regulation and taxes are like two blades on a pair of scissors cutting holes in the family budget. With dairy products, a federal regulatory cartel acts to keep the prices of milk, cheese, and related products artificially high.

Congress Helps Itself

”Congress is on the verge of giving itself a bump in its annual budget — even as local governments, families and businesses across the country are tightening their belts in the worst recession in decades,” Politico reports.

ACORN Scandal Should Spur Broader Cuts

Republicans are all over the ACORN scandal and calling for an end to federal subsidies for the group. That would be a good step, but it’s not exactly going out on a limb and pushing for major budget reforms.

Congressional Conflict of Interest

It looks like farm subsidy reform is unlikely for another few years. Senator Blanche Lincoln has been selected the new head of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Dow Jones notes: “Lincoln is a two-term moderate Democrat who described herself Wednesday as a ‘farmer’s daughter.’”

Federal Pay Rises Rapidly

The Bureau of Economic Analysis has released its annual data on compensation levels by industry. The data show that the pay advantage enjoyed by federal civilian workers over private-sector workers continues to expand.

More Money for Missiles

Summarizing a new Government Accountability Office study, the Washington Post reports that "the cost of building and operating the controversial U.S. ballistic missile sites in Europe could substantially exceed the original estimate of more than $4 billion."

Uncle Sam a Generous Boss

Federal unions, government officials, and the Washington Post’s “Federal Diary” column frequently suggest that federal civilian workers are underpaid. They suffer from a large “pay gap” compared to private sector workers, or so the story goes.

But in the Post’s “Jobs” section yesterday, human resources specialist Lily Garcia argues that “Uncle Sam Is a Boss You Can Rely On.” For job seekers, Garcia points to the many advantages of federal work:

Injustice of Federal Subsidies

Ohio lawmakers are hot under the collar about federal stimulus dollars possibly helping Georgia bid away one of its big employers. Here’s the Dayton Daily News:

NCR’s news release touting its decision to move jobs from Dayton to the Atlanta, Ga. suburbs includes one factoid that has Ohio lawmakers in a fury: The City of Columbus, Ga. plans to use federal stimulus dollars to buy a building and construct another to accommodate the 870 manufacturing jobs expected to come to the that Atlanta suburb. ‘The fact that economic stimulus dollars were used to move an Ohio company to Georgia at taxpayer expense is an outrage,’ said state Sen. Jon Husted.

Added U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Columbus: “Federal stimulus money is being used to create winners and losers among workers in different states and that’s just not right; it’s dirty.”

All I can say to both parties is that’s what you get for building an imperial city on the Potomac and spending the last few decades destroying the constitutional principle of federalism. As I’ve described in this study, regional warfare over federal subsidies has escalated in recent years. It’s horribly wasteful, and it’s getting worse.

Federal Workers Not Underpaid

The head of the Office of Personnel Management claims that federal workers are underpaid compared to private sector workers by 20 percent, on average. Federal unions and other cheerleaders for the bureaucracy have been making similar claims for years.

I’ve pointed out the dramatic acceleration of federal compensation over the last decade and the excessive generosity of federal worker benefits.

Federal workers are not underpaid.

Now a Human Resources expert writing in The Washington Post backs up my claims. Lily Garcia writes:

The primary advantages of working for the federal government are generous benefits, solid pay, and relative job security, a combination that is challenging to find in the private sector, even in the best of times … In addition to these benefits, federal employees, contrary to popular belief, are paid relatively well.

One policy implication is that federal worker compensation would be a good place to look for budget savings to reduce the federal deficit. We could start with a two-year freeze on federal salaries to save about $20 billion. During a recession, private wages are not increasing, so why should federal wages?

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