It is clear that the public and its representatives in Congress do not support compensating even the most educated and skilled employees at the level they could attain in the private sector. Nor would these employees ever see the kinds of monetary and non-monetary perks their counterparts in the private sector receive, such as paid sabbaticals, 12 weeks of paid maternity leave, bonuses, stock options, on-site spas and more.
On the other hand, the report’s conclusions would also suggest severely cutting the compensation of the lowest-paid federal workers, with the focus on slashing basic benefits. Here is why that would be wrong: The federal government, as one of the nation’s largest employers, must set a standard of basic fairness. Contrary to portrayals of “generous” federal benefits, federal employees do not receive paid dental or vision coverage or paid parental leave, nor do they get rich off their pensions. The typical lifetime federal employee will have an annuity from the defined benefit of approximately $1,000 per month. The government’s 401(k)-like fund, the Thrift Savings Plan, may provide around $400 per month if the average employee is able to contribute 5 percent of his or her salary for 30 years. While many private-sector entities have taken to eliminating or slashing health insurance and retirement benefits, especially for low-paid employees, our leaders should not support a race to the bottom for working Americans. Rather, they should seek out ways to increase economic and retirement security for those who may never be able to retire.