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More and more bureaucrats earning more and more

Posted by Richard on February 5, 2010

Last Sunday, on ABC's This Week, in an interview with Baba Wawa, Scott Brown called for a freeze on federal hiring and federal pay raises (something he'd advocated before on the campaign trail):

WALTERS: President Obama has asked for a spending freeze on almost everything except matters like the military, Social Security, and Medicare. He says he's going line by line through the budget. Now, you have said that's not enough for you; that you want to cut spending and not just freeze it.

Time out: What a bogus question. The "almost everything except" that's supposed to be frozen amounts to just 13% of the federal budget, according to the Cato Institute. So 87% of the nearly $4 trillion dollar budget is exempted from the Obama "freeze." And as Cato's Chris Edwards noted, "a very large part of the 2009 spending spike of $699 billion will be sloshing forward into 2010 and later years," so even that 13% isn't really "frozen" — it will grow by the hundreds of billions of yet-unspent "stimulus" funds already appropriated and still "sloshing" around.

So what are the first 3 items that you would cut?

BROWN: The problem with what the president said is he's not doing it until 2011. We need to do it immediately. We need to put a freeze on federal hires and federal raises because, as you know, federal employees are making twice as much as their private counterparts.

Sen. Brown's assertion about federal pay apparently came from a Cato study from last fall based on Bureau of Economic Analysis data. It showed that total compensation (including fringe benefits, which are much more generous for federal employees than those in the private sector) averaged $119,982 for federal civilian employees versus $59, 909 for those in the private sector.

Americans for Limited Government's Carter Clews thinks Sen. Brown's proposal is a good beginning, but doesn't go far enough. He thinks we should cut the federal government's workforce of 1.9 million civilian employees (which has grown steadily for many years, in good times and bad) instead of just freezing it:

Private sector vs. government employment

Scott Brown was right – as far as he went. And he should have gone much further. We don’t simply need to put a freeze on federal hires and raises. We need to fire federal employees. The American people, themselves, are clearly prepared to do their part come November. But, it would be a chipper idea to get a head start now by firing about ten percent of the drones and dregs now feeding from the federal trough.

Everywhere else in America, workers are reporting to work each morning not knowing whether they will have a job by the end of the day. More than ten percent of American workers – if you believe Barack Obama’s Labor Department – are now unemployed. And if you add those who are working part time because they can’t find full time jobs, as well as those who have simply given up looking, the figure is nearly double that.

But, there is one place where no one worries about losing his or her job, where the very idea of a pay cut is little more than laughable, and where the next pay raise is as certain as the sun rising in the east and Barack Obama spending money. No, it’s not the Enchanted Kingdom. It is, of course, the federal “work” place.

Charles Anderson thinks firing just 10% is totally inadequate: 

It is almost impossible to fire a federal employee, but the government would work much better if at least 20% of them were fired.  That is just the one's who are not even trying to do their jobs.  If you were to fire the ones who are trying somewhat, but doing their jobs badly, that would eliminate another 30% of federal workers.  Then there are those who are doing what they are assigned to do adequately well, but what they are doing is so wrongheaded that it is hurting the country.  Fire them and you will have eliminated another 25%.  The remaining 25% might largely be federal employees who are doing things that ought to be done and doing them well enough that it is reasonable to spare them the axe.

I'm with Charles on this. I like his math. Cutting the federal payroll by about 75% sounds pretty good to me. 

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