The spending plan proposed by Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, Mitt Romney’s pick as the Republican vice presidential candidate, has drawn strong opposition from federal employees.
Under the proposed House Republican budget, which Ryan sponsored as chairman of the Budget Committee, savings from the federal workforce would total $368 billion over 10 years. The two-year freeze on basic federal pay rates, scheduled to expire at the end of this year, would be extended through 2015 for a total of five years.
“The Path to Prosperity,” as the budget plan is named, also calls on federal workers to make an unspecified “more equitable contribution to their retirement plans,” which means higher costs to employees. Additionally, the federal workforce would be cut, through attrition over three years, by 10 percent, which equals more than 200,000 positions.
Because the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Justice and Homeland Security have so many employees, the majority of the eliminated positions would come from these agencies, all of which are related to national security.
The budget document says its plans “reﬂect the growing frustration of workers across the country at the privileged rules enjoyed by government employees.”
Ryan’s budget justifies the employee-related cuts, saying “it is no coincidence that private sector employment continues to grow only sluggishly while the government expands: To pay for the public sector’s growth, Washington must immediately tax the private sector or else borrow and impose taxes later to pay down the debt.”
Federal employees are already contributing $75 billion in budget savings over 10 years through the freeze, for $60 billion, and another $15 billion in increased retirement costs for new employees starting next year.
The plan drew strong opposition from employee organizations when it was announced in March. American Federation of Government Employees President John Gage said the retirement savings means workers would “face massive cuts to the retirement benefits promised when they were hired.”
Gage also said “it is fundamentally wrong for federal employees to be required, yet again, to serve as the Automated Teller Machine for the nation. Enough is enough.”
National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen M. Kelley said the authors of the budget apparently “don’t know, don’t understand or don’t care about the key role federal employees play in helping keep our nation safe, ensuring that our food and medicines are safe and effective, that our air and water are safe, and performing so many other services that people not only expect and want, but need, as well.”
And Joseph A. Beaudoin, president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, said, “Ryan’s belief that it is permissible to penalize middle-class federal workers, who protect Americans and keep our nation moving forward, is frightening.”
Previous columns by Joe Davidson are available at wapo.st/JoeDavidson.