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Federal Employees News Digest : March 18, 2013
March 18, 2013 Vol. 62, No. 33 3 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com tion to health and human services, military and foreign service. All will be hurt by these cuts. Over the longer term I really think this will in several ways have a chill- ing effect on federal employment gener- ally. I am not sure how students will react to the resulting changes and news, but I wonder if they will be attracted to federal service in the future as they have been in the past. Really, they’ll at least wonder about whether it's worth it to do at all while these dramatic cuts are occurring. They'll wonder what the support of the Congress is---and about the future of the federal service---and they may look elsewhere, I think. It will become harder to recruit for the federal service than it is today. People on the right---especially GOP leadership in the House---say there are bloated budgets and redundant jobs in the federal government, so there's plenty of room to trim. The Democrats defend the idea that the federal employment has been trimmed over time and is in most cases efficient. What is going on? Denhardt: Overall, I think, the public service is doing a very good job at serv- ing people---at the local, state and federal level. I suspect there are cases where there are programs that have outlived their usefulness, and places where efficiencies could be found. That's probably true of any institution in society, whether corpo- rate or labor. Actually, the federal service deserves pretty good marks for what they do, and how they do it. I was surprised to see Congressman Ryan’s latest proposal on this---which wasn't new at all. You know, a lot has occurred since he first proposed his deep cuts---including the re-election of the president. I think the cuts he proposes will hurt people---lower- earning and middle-class people. There are just no new revenues in it. And the cuts would end up on those who are not the wealthiest people in our society. A lot of people will be hurt badly by that--- people who cannot afford this kind of cut. If you were looking for a solution, what would you do? Denhardt: I really wonder a lot about how this situation has come about. And by this situation, I mean the amount of antagonism that seems to be part of what is happening in Washington. It's in some ways not unusual for parties to differ, of course. It seems a very reactive thing to me. For instance, Sen. McConnell will say something, and the other side will auto- matically oppose it. Or President Obama will say something and the other side will automatically oppose it. There is a lot of commentary, but it isn't creative commen- tary. It often has come from think tanks but also the federal bureaucracy. These sources seem cut off these days, or sub- merged. I suspect there are a lot of creative ideas outside of Congress in Washington, that would be helpful here. But I don't see it being translated into creative dialogue in Congress and I don't know how you get it in there. Not these days. It there a way out of today's extreme politics? Denhardt: Politics is always there. You have to wonder why dialogue is not more central to the legislative process. If you look at broadcasts of our debates and those else- where---like in the English Parliament---it's angry sometimes. But you need creative solutions here. And creativity is not as likely to come from just one corner or the other. It's likely to come from people--- even people with different viewpoints--- coming together. And I would emphasize this: the role of creative, innovative policy development, still, is a way out of this. Ryan budget plan targets pay, benefits While House and Senate lawmakers continued to work toward agreement on a continuing resolution to fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal 2013, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) last week rolled out a budget proposal for fiscal 2014. Like other recent budget blueprints proposed by Ryan, this one—once again titled Path to Prosperity---continues to feature a range of measures that tar- get federal employee numbers, pay and benefits. The document includes reference to the now familiar Congressional Budget Office estimate that federal employees make 16 percent more on average in total compensation than their private-sector counterparts. The proposed 2014 budget plan would "rectify that imbalance," the resolution states, saving the government an estimated $132 billion over 10 years. "The federal workforce is composed of some of the best educated and most ded- icated people in America," says the bud- get resolution. "This workforce is inte- gral to a well-functioning government. However, taxpayers must also receive an excellent value for their dollars." "Federal workers deserve to be com- pensated equitably for their important work, but their pay levels, pay increases, and fringe benefits should be reformed to better align with those of their pri- vate-sector counterparts," the resolu- tion states. "Immune from the effects of the recession, federal employees have received regular salary bumps regardless of productivity or economic realities." Ryan’s 2014 budget proposal also would reduce the size of the workforce through attrition. According to the document, the plan would produce a 10 percent reduc- tion in the federal workforce by 2015 and save $49 billion over 10 years. Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, objected to---among other things---the continued from page 1 Don’t miss our discussion of weekly news topics. Discuss these stories and more with your fellow federal workers at www.FederalSoup.com. continued on page 4
March 11, 2013
March 25, 2013