Opinion: A Long Dark Road for Federal Employees

20130225-Informed-Fed-Logo_150The federal workforce is undergoing major upheaval and destabilization with no end in sight.  In our opinion, this change is unprecedented since the era preceding The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act.  While many will discount our analysis blaming Republicans for this upheaval as “politics,” simple facts tell the truth.  Every action that has either negatively affected the federal workforce or is proposed to negatively affect the federal workforce originated with the Republican Party and is just too easy to prove through simple primary source research. In fact, we primarily relied upon speeches and interviews of Republicans themselves in proving this point.  However, this is not to absolve Democrats from blame.  Democrats have succumbed to using GOP proposals adversely affecting the federal workforce as bargaining chips; the most notable being the perpetual “federal pay freeze.” And, while federal employees once actually supported the pay freeze on the basis of “doing their part,” such support has deteriorated as the pay freeze appears permanent and additional proposals such as furloughs, pay cuts, overtime cuts, and increased benefits premiums begin to compound and drive federal employee pay down to levels not seen in decades.  Federal employees have learned that being a public employee and a Republican are mutually exclusive.

The Romney video presented above should intrigue every federal, state  and local public employee.  The Informed Fed does not take issue with the first part of the video in which Mr. Romney, supports a federal workforce reduction of 10% through attrition (provided they are not replaced with private contractors in the typical 2-1 ratio Republicans are known for).  What we, and all public employees, should take issue with is his statement,

“People who work for government [should not] get higher  pay and better benefits than people who work in private sector.”

This statement tells a reasonable person that Republicans believe federal employees should not be paid more than Walmart employees.  Never-mind any professional degrees you hold, whether your occupation requires you to carry a gun and risk your life, whether you are a rescue swimmer dropping into the ocean in the middle of the night, or the complexity of your job.  The GOP premise is that your pay and benefits should not exceed that of a private sector worker because you are a servant.  Listen to the video and note Romney’s tone and also note he does not call federal employees “public servants.”  Instead, he calls them “servants;” continuing the ongoing denigration of the federal workforce.  Big difference here folks. Don’t trust our analysis, watch the video a few times.  We are just reporting what Mr. Romney publicly stated, while speaking for the GOP, on many occasions.  It is our consolidated opinion that to believe otherwise, would require you to completely discount everything said and publicly supported by the Republican Party on this subject; making them liars.

Recently, Paul Ryan introduced his proposed budget, the same one that cost him and Romney the 2012 election, that will allegedly balance the budget in 10 years, which has become a critical concern of the GOP since, and only when, George Bush left office.  Much of this balancing will again fall on the heads of federal employees in a post-furlough environment.  What does that mean?  The cuts will come in addition to, not instead of, the 20% pay cuts associated with furlough.  In the case of Border Patrol Agents, these additional Ryan pay cuts will come on top of the 40% pay cut each agent is taking!  Among the many proposals affecting federal employees and their families contained in the Ryan budget,

  • Increased 5% contribution toward retirement (a 5% pay cut in reality)
  • Additional 5 years of pay freeze (in reality, permanent)
  • Increased FEHB premiums with possible reduction in benefits

To put it in practical terms, let me use a group of employees I regularly talk with- U.S. Border Patrol Agents.  Let’s say a Border Patrol Agent in San Diego earns 100k a year.  Post sequestration  that Agent now earns 60k  year.  Tack on Ryan budget proposals directly affecting this same agent, his pay will now be reduced to 57k not even considering increased FEHB costs or the loss of annual pay raises.  Some estimate a further reduction to 53k if you factor in those yet unknowns using reasonable assumptions.  Ironically, under the Ryan budget proposal, this same agent would face an increased tax burden as well.

Now, it is understandable many readers who are federal employees will consider this post politically biased.  This is simply because many federal employees are (were) Republican.  Therefore, our challenge to those naysayers is to prove our analysis wrong.  If it was actually the Democrats who campaigned in 2012 on the platform of reducing federal employee pay and benefits, tell us in the comments section and prove to us by citing your research.  If Republicans were defending federal employees, we would like to see that as well. Or, if you are one of those federal employees who thinks a 20%-40% pay cut is deserved, let us know as well.

Regardless, the facts point to an inevitably negative outcome for federal employees.  In our collective opinion representing over 100 years of practice and study in this area, we conclude the finest and most efficient civilian workforce in the world has sustained damage that will take decades to overcome.  It has been “bastardized” to the point that workforce destabilization manifesting in wide spread job actions is a forgone conclusion at this point.

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