TLP: Finally, the Answer to the Budget Crunch. For Reals.
Elected officials faced with seemingly unending budget crises and an increasingly frustrated and angry populace are turning their cost-cutting efforts to public employees. One more knife in the drawer that so far hasn't given governments much relief, despite attempts to outsource their workforces, cut services, increase fees, issue IOUs, raid community development funds, beg, plead and turn to privatization.
The Washington Post:
More and more, when politicians talk about government employees - whether they are federal, state or local - it is with the kind of umbrage ordinarily aimed at Wall Street financiers and convenience store bandits.The Obama Administration already has proposed freezing federal salaries. Cuts could be coming to the House of Representatives, too, once the Republicans take power. At some point, some of those government workers are going to say, "Fuck it," and head to the private sector. You know, once the recovery kicks in and hiring resumes.
"We can no longer live in a society where the public employees are the haves and the taxpayers who foot the bill are the have-nots," Wisconsin's incoming Republican Gov. Scott Walker declared this month, as he raised the idea of stripping state workers there of collective bargaining rights.
Outgoing Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is mulling a GOP presidential bid, also sounded a class-war note last week on the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal: "Unionized public employees are making more money, receiving more generous benefits and enjoying greater job security than the working families forced to pay for it with ever-higher taxes, deficits and debt."
... Relative job security with generous benefits that extend into retirement has long been part of the appeal of working for the government. But an eight-hour day in a drab Independence Avenue office building can look like a supremely privileged lifestyle when Americans in the private sector are panicked and furious over what has happened to their own salaries, health coverage and 401 (k)s.
Add to that the growing view that the government has gotten too big and that deficits are going to swallow the economy, and you have all the makings of a backlash.
Budgets in the House of Representatives will soon undergo some trimming, if Representative John A. Boehner, the incoming speaker, has his way. But according to a new report, congressional staffing levels have already fallen off over the last three decades and many House staffers could be paid significantly more for similar work in the private sector.Some will be happy to let government workers go, just for the savings. The problem is that the private sector isn't going to want the schlubs and the clock-watchers. More than likely, the sought-after staffers will be the good ones. Yay.
The study from the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan outfit that aims to make government more transparent, also found that many employees in personal House offices have seen little change in their salaries over the last 20 years and that congressional offices have shifted more of their staff members away from Washington and into their home districts.
The analysis comes not long after Mr. Boehner said in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” that he would look to cut an array of House budgets by 5 percent in order to help reduce federal spending. “You’ve got to start somewhere,” the Ohio Republican said. “And we’re going to start there.”
The Sunlight Foundation’s review did offer several caveats – for instance, in its comparison of salaries in the House and the private sector, the foundation said it was unable to consider committee salaries and that it only had approximate private sector parallels for some positions in Congress.
But it also asserted that, on average, a House member’s chief of staff could make almost 40 percent more in a comparable private position. In other top jobs – such as legislative director, communications director or senior legislative assistant – a staffer could add an additional 50 percent to 80 percent to their salaries in the private sector.