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August 10, 2010

Christienomics? Republicans Buzzing About Cool New Way To Cut Federal Spending Without Touching Taxpayers' Checks -- Cut Federal Employee Wages

DrewM. linked this briefly in his DOD cuts post, but he suggests that maybe it's important for a stand-alone post. He's right.


The upside? This affects only Obama voters, pretty much. The cost is borne by them. (It's the right thing to do, too, but let's just talk political effect.)

It is a truism that the taxpayer is always up for increasing someone else's taxes. It stands to reason, then, they'd also be game to cut someone else's pay, right?

This is straight from Obama's playbook -- when a cost is to be imposed, only impose it on those who vote against you.

As Alinksy said, make them live up to their own rulebook.

Okay, that's not really exactly on-target but close enough.


Whenever a conservative suggests reducing the federal deficit by cutting spending rather than raising taxes, there's always someone to ask: Well, what would you cut? Americans may say they want less government spending, the argument goes, but they don't want anyone to touch their services and subsidies and monthly checks.

Fair enough. But there's a persuasive counter-argument going around in conservative circles these days: You can start cutting government spending without cutting anyone's services or subsidies or monthly checks. Just bring the pay of federal workers into line with pay in the private sector.

A recent Heritage Foundation study found the average federal worker (excluding the uniformed military) makes $78,901 a year in wages and salary versus $50,111 for the average private sector worker. When you count generous health and pension benefits, the average total compensation of federal workers comes to $111,015 a year versus $60,078 in the private sector.

In recent years, that disparity has been fueled by an explosion of federal generosity on the high end of the pay scale....

If Congress were to freeze federal pay raises until the private sector begins to catch up, the savings to taxpayers would be considerable. Heritage scholar James Sherk estimates that ending the disparity could save the taxpayers $47 billion a year. (A study by the American Enterprise Institute put the figure at $40 billion.) That won't get close to balancing the budget, but add up 10 years of that and the government will save significant money.

Indeed. And it's very nearly cost-free, as far as political damage.

There's no need to claim this is a panacea; it's not. It barely gets us there. But it is a step in the right direction.

We do have to cut actual muscle. But before we cut the muscle we need to cut the fat. And this is all fat.


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posted by Ace at 11:36 AM

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