I guess President Obama thinks that attaining an unemployment rate of 8.5 percent is such fabulous news that now it’s time to start handing out raises—to government employees, a big Democratic constituency, and already arguably enormously overpaid. A 2010 USA Today story reported that federal workers are “earning double their private counterparts.”
The Washington Post reports that the president will propose a 0.5 percent raise for civilian government workers in his 2013 budget. The newspaper explains:
The modest cost of living increase in federal compensation would be the first pay jump for federal workers since before President Obama ordered a two-year freeze in late 2010.
The proposal, which requires congressional approval, differs from Republican plans supported by lawmakers and presidential candidates that would freeze federal compensation for at least one more year. In recent weeks, GOP lawmakers have called for extending the pay freeze as a way to pay for a payroll tax extension.
But, “a permanent pay freeze is not an acceptable policy,” one of the senior administration officials said Friday. “While modest, a .5 percent increase reflects the belt-tightening we must do in these difficult times.”
“This is belt-tightening?” responds Mark Hemingway over at the Weekly Standard’s blog. Mark nails it:
This state of affairs is appalling. Of course, it's easy politics for Obama. If he gets the pay increase, Obama helps buy the votes of two million federal workers.
If it proves a nonstarter with Congress, he can blame it on the "obstructionist" GOP and tell the federal employee unions he's fighting for them. Meanwhile, taxpayers take it on the chin.
Yeah—that’s what adds injury to insult: the struggling Americans who aren’t paid double are going to have to pick up the tab for this largess, at a time when we need to be finding ways to retire federal workers, not make government employment even more attractive.