Examiner Editorial: Federal workers should share recession pain

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., has a long-overdue message from America’s taxpayers to Washington politicians and bureaucrats: It’s time for you to share our pain. Coffman proposes to furlough all nonessential federal workers for two weeks next year. That’s a radical proposal only in the nation’s capital. Twenty-four states are currently furloughing public-sector workers in response to budget problems. The Coffman bill also cuts the $174,000 salaries of senators and representatives by 10 percent. A mere $5.5 billion in savings would result if Hoffman’s measure is approved, but that’s not the point. As Heritage Foundation analyst Jason Richwine said during a panel discussion yesterday on civil service overcompensation, the debate over federal salaries is really “a matter of government legitimacy.” Are these people America’s civil servants or our masters?

For nearly two years, millions of private-sector workers have made often painful sacrifices due to failed federal economic policies and skyrocketing federal spending and debt. But the opposite has been true for federal workers. Starting in 2008, federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14 percent to 19 percent of the total civil service workforce of 20 million. During the same period, Washington added about 100,000 new jobs, while more than 7 million jobs in the private sector vaporized. Average compensation for federal workers is now $123,049 — more than double the private-sector average. Federal salaries have grown twice as fast as those in the private sector over the past decade, and civil servants are only one-third as likely to quit their jobs as private sector employees.

It is thus no coincidence that of the 10 counties with the highest per capita incomes in America, six are in the Washington, D.C., area. The federal government has made its workforce recession-proof. Want to know one of the reasons why the $814 billion economic stimulus bill failed miserably? Four out of five jobs President Barack Obama claimed the bill “created or saved” were in government, reports the Heritage Foundation.

Unfortunately, we have little reason to believe Congress will cut its pay or rein in the federal bureaucracy. Last week, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., fired off an angry letter to the House Democratic leadership for refusing to schedule a vote on her bill to cut congressional pay by 5 percent. It’s been 77 years since Congress voluntarily took a pay cut. In the year of the tea party, if the rest of Congress doesn’t take Coffman and Kirkpatrick’s bills seriously, voters will have the opportunity in November to remind them what it’s like to be unemployed.

editorialeditorialsOpinionSFExaminer

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

A health care worker receives one of the first COVID-19 vaccine doses at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital on Tuesday Dec. 15, 2020. (Courtesy SFgov)
SF to open three large sites for COVID-19 vaccinations

Breed: ‘We need more doses. We are asking for more doses’

Tongo Eisen-Martin, a Bernal Heights resident, named San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Tongo Eisen-Martin becomes San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate

Bernal Heights resident Tongo Eisen-Martin has become San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate.… Continue reading

Homeless people's tents can be seen on Golden Gate Avenue in the Tenderloin on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 16, 2020. (Photo by Ekevara Kitpowsong/S.F. Examiner)
Statewide business tax could bring new funds to combat homelessness

San Francisco could get more than $100 million a year for housing, rental assistance, shelter beds

The Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco (a mural by artist Jamie Treacy is pictued) has a lineup of free online programming including activities for youngsters scheduled for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 18. (Courtesy Demetri Broxton/Museum of the African Diaspora)
Stanford, Museum of the African Diaspora host MLK Day activities

Online offerings include films, music, discussion

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi presides the US House of Representatives vote on the impeachment of US President Donald Trump at the US Capitol, January 13, 2021, in Washington, DC. - The Democrat-controlled US House of Representatives on January 13 opened debate on a historic second impeachment of President Donald Trump over his supporters' attack of the Capitol that left five dead. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)
House votes 232-197 to impeach Trump a second time

Focus shifts to Senate, where McConnell has signaled he may not stand by president

Most Read