An Ol' Broad's Ramblings

An Expensive Reality

1 February 2012, 9:18 am. 6 Comments. Filed under Opinion.

Unless you have been living under a rock, this is not new news. All you have to do is look at the situation in Wisconsin, where Governor Walker is doing his best to rein in spending, having state union employees pay more of THEIR fair share of their own expenses, like health insurance and pension. The idea that anyone, especially “public servants”, state and federal, are entitled to live off the taxpayers income for the rest of their lives is ludicrous!

Federal Workers Overpaid, and CBO Agrees
The Foundry

Here’s some news that federal bureaucrats in Washington — and indeed around the country — don’t want to hear: According to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released this week, federal workers are paid higher than their private-sector counterparts.

The “alarming news” hit the national media yesterday, but there’s a funny thing about the report. None of it is really “news” — in fact, The Heritage Foundation long ago uncovered the truth about federal pay. The CBO’s report this week was spurred in part by two years of work on federal compensation conducted by Heritage the American Enterprise Institute.

In July 2010, Heritage’s James Sherk explained that Americans are overtaxed to pay the civil service. Salaries and benefits–for identical jobs–are 30 percent to 40 percent higher in the federal government than in the private sector. And in June 2011, Heritage’s Jason Richwine authored a study showing that workers who change jobs receive a substantially larger raise when they switch into federal employment rather than into another private job. In fact, Sherk testified before Congress on this very subject in March 2011, bringing the fact of the pay disparities to the House’s attention:

The federal pay system unnecessarily inflates federal pay. My research shows that, on average, federal employees earn hourly wages 22 percent higher than otherwise comparable private-sector workers. Numerous studies by researchers whose personal views span the political spectrum come to similar conclusions.

Federal employees also receive premium benefits. They receive both a defined-benefit and defined-contribution pension plan, can retire with full benefits at 56, and receive significantly more paid leave than their private-sector counterparts. Accounting for the value of these benefits raises the federal compensation premium to between 30 percent and 40 percent above similar private-sector workers. All told, the federal compensation premium will cost taxpayers $47 billion this year.

Their analysis drew significant and at times vicious criticism. Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry described their work as “a misinformation campaign.” The public-sector employee unions weighed in, of course, with the National Federation of Federal Employees calling our work “lies;” the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers labeling it “scapegoating;” and Colleen Kelley of the National Treasury Employees Union smearing the work as “self-serving, self-created data.” Their attempt to deny reality and attack the messenger isn’t surprising. After all, those unions exist to inflate the wages of those they represent, and the taxpayers are the ones left footing the bill.

But the unions weren’t the only ones on the attack. The liberal ThinkProgress blog asserted that Heritage’s work was “riddled with errors” and that the “claims are baseless.” Meanwhile, Economic Policy Institute President Lawrence Mishel said that the idea that federal workers are overpaid is “a conservative myth.”

Despite the criticism from the left, Heritage continued making its argument, explaining its methodology, and carrying the message that, based on the research, federal workers are in fact overpaid and that action is warranted. Specifically, Congress should implement a pay-for-performance system, expand the contracting of federal work to private companies, reduce the generosity of federal benefits, and end the near-absolute job security for underperforming federal workers. Now it’s time for the critics on the left to recognize this truth and get on board with reality.

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  1. Gary K.. 1 February 2012, 10:31 am

    having state union employees pay more of THEIR fair share of their own expenses, like health insurance and pension.”

    Is that what Obama means when he says he wants some people to pay their ‘fair share’??     ;)



  2. Gary K.. 1 February 2012, 10:48 am

    Seriously tho, this report over-simplifies things quite a bit.

    There are many govt jobs for which there is no comparable civil job, the military comes to mind.   

    Senior officers in the military or  senior career  civil service types do not receive anyway near the  pay and benefits of senior company execs.

    Career miliutary/VA docs do not receive anywhere near the pay of most private docs.

    SEC people receive no where near the pay and perks  of the Wall Street types they regulate.    

    Cungress Critters ARE over-paid; but, they are not govt workers.

  3. Mark Smith. 1 February 2012, 12:21 pm

    I agree with  Gary K. all a person has to do is look at the GS pay scale. Not all jobs had the same pay scale. I ret. under the old Fed. Retirement plan and we paid more into it than people coverd under SS.  At this time gov’t employees are covered under SS (the employees under GS pay) . So now you have to look at the ones who are appointed and elected.  All is not as it looks!

  4. olbroad. 1 February 2012, 1:08 pm

    Our military is the most underpaid, and overworked, bunch in the entire country.  What I believe this is covering is the government union employees, which should have never happened.  That’s the one thing that FDR got right!  :? 

    I’m quite familiar with the GS system.  :D  My dad was …. GS 13?  Maybe it was 14.  That was a LONG time ago, and I’m old.  Shoddy memory and all that.  Heh.  One thing he did, as did most of his generation, was ALWAYS set aside some of his take home for his retirement.  He didn’t count on the gubmint to take care of him, or my mom, in their old age.  Today, you don’t see government union members giving a thought for their future, just expecting those who pay their salaries to foot the bill for their preferred lifestyle.  :? 

    The general pay for public and private sectors may be similar, but it’s the benefits that are killing us.

  5. Gary K.. 1 February 2012, 1:28 pm

    Your Dad was smart; because, what the govt gives, the govt can decrease or take away.

    Govt has NOT given a COLA for Soc Sec people for several years.

    Medicare deductions from them keep going up tho!!!    

  6. olbroad. 1 February 2012, 8:24 pm

    Yup…that he was.  Having lived through the Great Depression, he learned some hard lessons.