At a time when the economy is booming, wages are rising, and blue-collar optimism is soaring, the federal government is also still growing too fast. Accumulation of debt hasn’t slowed — in fact, it’s accelerated. So it’s a welcome sign when President Donald Trump cites federal spending as a justification for freezing the pay of more than two million civilian federal workers next year. The pay freeze doesn’t apply to military personnel, who will receive a 2.6% raise.
“We must maintain efforts to put our nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases,” the president said of the planned pay freeze in a letter to Congress. In fact, Trump said, “Federal employee pay must be performance-based, and aligned strategically toward recruiting, retaining, and rewarding high-performing Federal employees and those with critical skill sets.”
Performance-based pay raises? Gosh, that’s a novel concept. Of course, there’s an even chance Congress will override Trump in coming spending bills.
“Trump has the nerve to eliminate pay raises for federal employees to ‘put our nation on a fiscally sustainable course,’” fumed a DNC spokesman, who slammed the move as “yet another slap in the face to American workers.” That same spokesman also lamented the GOP tax cuts, which let American workers keep more of their own money. By the way, Democrats didn’t put up much #Resistance when Barack Obama froze pay for federal workers in 2011.
One element of this debate is just how much more federal workers earn than their private-sector counterparts. Last year, we noted a Congressional Budget Office study revealing that pay gap to be 17%. Most of the disparity comes via benefits, not necessarily wages.
As we said then, there are extremely hard workers who earn their pay as public servants. The problem is we have people like the EPA employee who browse porn all day, IRS employees who steal from taxpayers, and CFPB bureaucrats resisting Trump by forming “Dumbledore’s Army” based on children’s literature. When you factor in the total job security that government workers have and then lump in extra pay and benefits, the private sector simply can’t compete.
A final note: Given that Hillary Clinton received 95% of all donations from non-military federal employees, this is a low-cost move for Trump in more ways than one.