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Govies Show Sacrifice: It’s OK, Freeze My Pay

Today President Obama announced a federal pay freeze for Federal employees. If you haven’t heard, here’s all the details from our friends at the Washington Post:

Of course, GovLooper Candace Riddle has already posted a forum about inviting you to:

Based on the comments there, I am struck by how noble and selfless you are as public servants…and I think your sense of sacrifice is more widespread. I know I probably would have been a little annoyed by it at first when I worked for DHS, Ultimately, I think I would have been okay – because I didn’t work for government for the money. Like most of you, I did it to make a difference.

So I created a Facebook page where you as Federal employees can share this sentiment with fellow Americans. There’s such a negative perception of government, and I think now is an opportunity to show citizens the real heart and sense of sacrifice for the common good that motivates most public servants. If you can honestly say it, then I’d invite you to “Like” the page:

If you don’t agree with it, I can certainly understand that, too. And I invite you to vent your frustration below…

Either way, I appreciate all that you do every day to make America better…and my thoughts are with you as you face this new challenge.

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20 Comments

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Profile Photo Cheryl Ward

I am not gung ho about using the Like feature on Facebook, but I am willing to log in here to state that I am ok about this pay freeze, especially if it stays the desire of some in Congress to cut our pay. Feds have pay and benefits rules that provide considerable buffering to dull the effects of the economic downturn — so I don’t see this as a grossly unfair move…
However, I AM sorry to see that the federal payroll stats highlighted by the media make it appear to many in the general public that feds are millionaires. This perception is far from the truth.

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Profile Photo Kevin Carter

I’m okay/agree with the decision. While I know that not every federal employee is in the financial position to forgo this General Schedule Increase, I, personally couldn’t have taken it (which is why my friends and I planned to donate it).

My mother works for local government and has taken probably 10-20% worth of cuts over the past 3 years. Friends in the private sector are in worse shape. So although I don’t make what I could in the public sector, I’m okay with the move because I signed up for a greater cause than myself when I entered public service.

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Profile Photo Paul G. Claeyssens

I am all for doing my part, the problem is much more complex that freezing fed salaries. Recruitment of the best and brightest is already a challenge, plus pay & retention is really an issue; were it not for the ecomony, many would jump to pvt sector now. This I am afraid will only make gov service worse and not even take a microscopic dent out of the deficit or budget.

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Profile Photo Christopher Whitaker

I know I’m not included in this, but for our part Illinois state workers agreed to defer our pay increases in order to help balance the state budget. I’m afraid it’s not quite as noble as the alternative was layoffs in the Department of Corrections and Human Services.

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Profile Photo Dannielle Blumenthal

I understand why it is being done, but communication-wise I think more could have been done to engage the federal worker. Simply announcing it with no runup and buy-in beforehand is needlessly confrontational. We are all on the same side.

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Profile Photo Stephen Peteritas

@Dannielle yeah they didn’t have solid PR strategy with this but I guess maybe they figured it was going to be liked and disliked according regardless… still would have like to see a stronger effort there though.

@Wendell that’s my biggest concern too

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Profile Photo Pat Alford

I don’t have a problem with this. As a federal employee, I am prepared to do my part to help right the ship. Long timers saw this coming as early as last year, and certainly since September, when legislation was proposed to reduce Congressional salaries and institute a mandatory 10-day furlough. Times are very hard for the entire country. Being a civil servant is a choice I made and I will not turn my back on that decision when the going gets tough. Besides, the possible alternatives to a pay freeze are just too ugly to think about!

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Profile Photo Heather Krasna, MS

I’m not a federal employee and never have been, but I’ve been a state and local gov employee for the last 12 years because I have always worked for public higher education.
As state governments face the most daunting budgets in memory, the first thing they always cut is higher ed. So far, I’ve lost 11 coworkers–a third of the staff of my school–in less than 3 years, and another 20% cut is in the works. I haven’t seen a raise since I got my job, and many of my co-workers have taken cuts in their hours (and pay) to save their colleagues from layoffs. The only thing most colleges have left to do is raise tuition, making higher ed less and less affordable to the working and middle classes, who are then saddled down with unbearable debts before they can even launch a career.

Salary freezes, hiring freezes, furloughs and layoffs have become par for the course across many state and local governments.
It’s not a pretty picture, especially considering what a terrible strategy it is for our nation’s long-term success. But when you put things in this context, you will see that federal employees seem to have the most secure of any government jobs. A freeze on raises seems fairly normal considering what other govies are dealing with.

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Profile Photo Matthew W

Govloop, here are my thoughts:

Due to the change in Congress, it was inevitable that this would happen. The new majority in the House of Representatives was going to make sure that this was done (I’m being a little partisan here, but the Federal civil service is an easy target for John Boehner and his crew), so President Obama beat them to the punch.

I don’t mind seeing a short freeze in pay, but I want shared sacrifice. EVERYONE, and I mean EVERYONE, knows that the largest expenses in the federal budget are the mandatory entitlement programs, Social Security and Medicare. Cuts to discretionary spending, including general government operations (such as federal salaries), federal student aid, and the national parks, just to name a few, are drops in the bucket. If nothing is done to curb the growth of the mandatory entitlement programs, then there is no shared sacrifice. Further, if we cannot continue to borrow money from our adversaries, including China and Saudi Arabia, to finance tax cuts we cannot afford.

Shared sacrifice is more than freezing federal salaries… I can do my part for a couple of years, but I expect the nation to participate… and that means making hard decisions. This comment could have been a blog post.

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Profile Photo Anita Perkins

I’m currently unemployed and didn’t work for the government. However, I would have gladly taken a pay freeze oppose to being laid-off. I do believe that the pay freeze should be across the board-all levels of government. The sacrifice should be made by all.

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Profile Photo Timothy Cole

It will be interesting to see what congressional earmarks feds are paying for when the appropriations come out in the next month or so. I expect the pork to be criticized very thoroughly this year. Rather pointless to freeze the salaries and then spend the savings on ineffecient programs.

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Profile Photo Terrie Craven

I am a state employee in higher education and we have had a hiring freeze and no raises for two years now. And most state employees (other than higher ed) have been furloughed. Other states have been feeling the same pain. Frankly, I’m not sure why the federal pay freeze didn’t happen sooner in the political and economic climate we’re in. I don’t wish a pay freeze on anybody, but as others have stated, we must all share the pain and hopefully soon, we’ll share the good times again.

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Profile Photo Cindy Lou Baker

Wait a minute. Some people say this was inevitable? Really? Why weren’t we given some sort of notice so we could be prepared? I watch the news (All of it.) Does anyone here really think this is going to “right the ship?” I have personally said, “Fine, take my pay. I’ll survive and I’ll continue to pay my taxes too (ON TIME),” but I think most of the respondents here are from the East coast. Does anyone think it’s interesting that the Administration would freeze the locality pay? Where was it going? Is it being done to keep the focus off of it or to keep it from being looked into, messed with and lowered?

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Profile Photo Lewis Gutman

The freeze is not being imposed on federal employees in order to reduce the budget deficit; its impact is negligible. Other solutions (e.g., letting the tax cut for earnings over $250,000 lapse) are not so popular among the people applauding the federal pay freeze, even though the savings are substantially greater. We shouldn’t blind ourselves. Our willingness to forgo raises is not perceived by very many as an indication of our good will and patriotism. In rightwing and mainstream blogs and comments posted to the NY Times and US Today, a sizable proportion of the writers are calling this just a start. These folks propose reducing the size of the federal workforce by 20, 30 percent, or more and reducing pay by 50 percent. They want furloughs, elimination of health benefits, scaling back of our retirements, etc. They even want to eliminate the benefits we don’t get, e.g., our “free life insurance” benefit. The comments commonly label federal workers as lazy, incompetent, and (yes, this is a quote) as “parasites”. Many republican members of Congress agree with this assessment and you can bet there will be investigations to uncover what is touted as widespread fed employee misbehavior. If unchecked, the ultimate result of this demonization will be the delegitimization of federal workers. Wake up, these are attacks, not reasoned statements to share the pain with fellow Americans.

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Profile Photo Lewis Gutman

Regarding your link to Paul Krugman’s op-ed on President Obama and the pay freeze: whether Mr. Obama will stand up for federal workers in the face of demands for further concessions is debatable. Frankly, I don’t think he has the stomach. The new congress convenes one month from today.

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