Monday, November 29, 2010

Obama is all aboard the federal pay freeze - UPDATED

President Obama is set to announce a pay freeze for federal workers today.  The pay freeze could save up to $30 billion over the next five years, though the freeze would be in effect for two years.  Though the pay freeze made its debut in the GOP Pledge to America, Obama is likely influenced by the public support for the freeze:
There are about 2.65 million civilian employees of the executive branch, per the Washington Post. That's about 8.4 federal workers per 1,000 American citizens.

A Washington Post poll in October found that 52 percent of Americans believe federal workers are overpaid. About half of respondents said they believe federal employees work "less hard" than their peers in the private sector.
Zero Hedge  thinks government workers should be thanking Obama, "as this means federal salaries which have exploded in the past 5 years will be stuck at all time highs for at least two years, even as nominal salaries for everyone else (except FIRE workers of course) continue to decline."  He does hate it when people forget to thank him for all his hard work.  Of course the hard thing here would be cutting federal pay but I wouldn't expect to see Obama doing the heavy lifting on that anytime soon.

Ed Morrissey doubts we'll see much in terms actual savings:
Will we actually see this cost savings?  Probably not.  Gabriel Malor received an official explanation given to federal employees today, which assured them that the freeze “will not impact step increases or bonuses for federal workers.”  It applies to cost-of-living increases, mainly.  If an agency wants to give a worker an increase, they just need to increase their pay grade or boost their bonuses to make it happen.
Come on, this is pathetic.  There is no such built-in workaround for seniors who won't be getting their COLA for social security.  Even if a legitimate pay freeze is necessary and perhaps long over-due, this doesn't get to the institutionalized waste and abuse that a massive bureaucracy invites, as Rep. Darrell Issa points out at The Corner:
“At a time when our nation’s seniors have been denied a cost-of-living-increase and private sector hiring is stagnant, it is both necessary and quite frankly, long over-due to institute a pay-freeze for the federal workforce. As Republicans outlined in our Pledge to America there are a number of actions the President and Congress should immediately act on to demonstrate a real commitment to reigning in the excessive growth and spending of the federal government.

“To put this in perspective, the Obama Administration says this two-year pay freeze will save $2 billion, however, just last week, OMB released a report revealing that the federal government’s improper payments for FY-2010 totaled $125 billion, $15 billion higher than the previous year. It is unthinkable that we have come to accept having a bureaucracy that has institutionalized waste, fraud and abuse to the point where $125 billion in improper payments were made last year. The first place we should look to make progress on higher costs, increased debt and a stagnant economy is look inward at how taxpayer dollars are being spent and doing more to ensure that tens of billions of dollars are no longer erroneously paid out.”
What a disgrace, $125 billion in improper payments in one year?  This is Barack Obama's Smart Government at work:
“There are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short.  For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage. What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works.”
It's not working Mr. President.  It's not smarter, it's at least 15 billion dollars more wasteful than the year before.

Heh: Leave it to Stacy McCain to capture the spirit of Obama's message:

Shorter Obama: ‘In This False Dilemma, America Must Make a Manichean Choice Between My Indisputably Wise Policies and My Tendentious Straw-Man Caricature of Republican Policies’

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