Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) on Thursday suggested political leaders should look elsewhere beside the federal workforce for ways to avoid the fiscal cliff and reduce the deficit.
Speaking during a conference call with reporters, the congressman, a ranking member of the House Budget Committee, said federal employees have already sacrificed $103 billion over the past two years in the form of a two-year pay freeze, reduced and delayed pay increases for 2013 and an increase in new-hire pension contributions.
“Every Republican proposal that has come through Congress during the past two years has taken a meat axe to federal employees,” Van Hollen said. “Others have not been asked to contribute anything, including millionaires and high-income earners.”
The congressman expressed support for the president’s proposals to limit tax deductions and increase rates on earners making more than $250,000 per year. He said further deficit-reduction measures should come from a “menu of options” available in the last White House budget plan.
Members of the Federal-Postal Coalition said during the conference call that they have little inside information about the fiscal-cliff negotiations or what might happen if sequestration takes effect.
“Our councils and our locals are continuing to reach out to their managers,” said Beth Moten, legislative and political director the American Federatioun of Government Employees. “I don’t think the agencies know themselves. Whatever they know they’re certainly not telling our people in any great detail.”
Maureen Gilman, legislative and political director of the National Treasury Employees Union, said government agencies would have to follow certain negotiated procedures in the event of a sequester before carrying out furloughs or reductions in force.
The federal-employee groups said they have enlisted help from their members in contacting political leaders and campaigning against further cuts for government workers.
Jessica Klement, a legislative representative of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, said she has not heard positive feedback from leaders involved in the fiscal cliff negotiations. She said most officials have hinted that the solution will require difficult sacrifices all around.