The Washington Post

How much would be saved if every fed was fired

Here are a couple of interesting items about federal employees that have been in the news lately.

One is a good news story about workers in Great Falls, Mont. volunteering to make their community better. The other concerns how much money would be saved if every fed were fired.


We’ll get to the good news shortly.

But first, how much money would be saved if Uncle Sam fired every federal employee, including military personnel?

Not enough.

Not enough, that is, to solve the nation’s deficit problems.

The PBS Newshour’s Paul Solman recently broadcast this informative exchange with The Wall Street Journal’s David Wessel, author of “Red Ink,” a primer on the federal budget.

Wessel: Even if we fired every single federal employee, from the person who’s watering Michelle Obama’s tomatoes to the woman who’s sitting in some silo in North Dakota with her finger on the button to launch a missile if need be, if we got rid of all of them, we would have saved a lot of money, but it would have only made a small dent in the deficit.

The deficit was over a trillion dollars last year, and we would have saved $435 billion in wages and benefits if we fired every federal employee.

Solman: Including the military?

Wessel: Including the military. The point is that most of the money the federal government collects doesn’t go to pay bureaucrats. It goes right back out again in the form of benefits or state and local government grants or contracts. If we are going to restrain spending, someone is going to get less money from the federal government.

Good Deeds

Now the good news about good deeds.

More than 80 employees participated in the Combined Federal Campaign annual Day of Caring in Great Falls, according to the Great Falls Tribune.

Federal employees, military and civilian, cleaned garages, raked leaves, trimmed trees and did light maintenance work for disabled and senior citizens, the Tribune reports. Agencies represented included the Air Force, the Forest Service, the Postal Service and the Montana Air National Guard.

“This is a good way to give a little back to the community,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Jim Ulrich.

Twitter: @JoeDavidsonWP

Previous columns by Joe Davidson are available at

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about federal government and workplace issues that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.


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