Federal employees are still whining over Obama’s 2 year pay freeze. While the measure is really more of a symbolic gesture than anything substantive, it is still a step towards deficit reduction. Obviously, the mandate falls short in several areas. It only freezes the pay of non-military employees, and it is only a 2 year freeze as opposed to the 3 year freeze proposed by the Pledge to America.
However, putting the weaknesses of the decision aside, the fact remains that it is a step in the right direction, especially for a President who has never given us any reason to believe he was serious about addressing the deficit. Even so, considering the lukewarm quality of the decision, this event should no longer be considered newsworthy. Time to move on to bigger fish. The only problem is that the story was featured on the front page of today’s New York Times.
Why can’t we just get over this? The federal employees won’t let it go, that’s why. If the actions of these federal employees are any indication of the resistance that is to come, we are facing a virtually impossible task of cutting the budget deficit.
It is somewhat expected for the federal unions to rise up against the prospect of freezing employee pay. After all, it is kind of their job to do so. However, a week removed from the fact, they are still going at it….as if complaining is actually going to make our multi-trillion dollar deficit disappear…
“I think federal employees are definitely getting a bad rap and definitely have become political punching bags,” said William R. Dougan, the president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, which represents 110,000 blue- and white-collar government workers. “It’s hard for people, until they actually experience not having some of the services that the government provides, to understand what the government does.”
This idea that government services will suffer because federal pay is held at a fixed rate is ridiculous. Freezing already bloated federal pay is not the same as cutting services, and it does not represent a deterioration in services rendered. Federal employees are not “political punching bags.” They are merely the first sector of spending to take a hit. They are no more political punching bags than Medicare, Social Security, and Defense will be.
The Department of Education should be included in that grouping, but unfortunately, we don’t seem to be able to understand that education is inherently a right for state control. The quality of education should be dictated by competition across states, not by arbitrary federal grants that waste taxpayer money. Speaking of the DoE, the New York Times provides a nice quote from an employee making over $100,000 in a Department that represents the worst in government waste:
Iyauta Moore may be many things — a single mother raised by a single mother in the South Bronx, a 34-year-old woman with a master’s degree in public administration from American University, a top-level government employee who makes a little over $100,000 a year — but she bristles at the notion that she is just another overpaid, underworked, cosseted bureaucrat.
“What I do here involves creating something that doesn’t exist,” she said of her job at the Department of Education, where she is establishing a group to help oversee all of the department’s grants. “That’s not pushing paper.”
Ms. Moore, who is a member of the American Federation of Government Employees, added: “We’re out and we’re making a difference in the community. And I don’t really think you can put a dollar figure on that.”
The quote speaks for itself. This lady is “establishing a group to oversee department grants.” What does that even mean? That kind of job description is the definition of government waste. Are Americans going to take a hit if a group organizer– whatever that may be– makes less than $100,000? Certainly it is true that the Department of Education creates a product that doesn’t exist. They’ve also been trying to create that non-existent product since the 70s. It still doesn’t exist. Should we keep throwing money down the drain just to keep a few $100,000+ income employees on the government payroll? Probably not.
This event is old news. The fact that it is a prominent story in a national newspaper is the real issue. What is going to happen when we actually try to make substantial spending cuts to defense, social security, and medicare? Those are the only departments from which we can really make substantive cuts. Why? Because we spend the most money there. If we can’t even touch the areas in which we spend the most money, we are never going to make a dent in this deficit, and the reason we can’t touch these areas is because people continue to act like it’s the end of the world when they have to make some sacrifices.