In their campaign blueprint released this week, GOP lawmakers proposed a hiring freeze on non-security federal workers to help slash $100 billion in government spending. On Capitol Hill, they've tried to block President Obama's proposed 1.4 percent pay increase, to furlough federal workers for two weeks to save $5.5 billion, to fire workers who owe federal taxes, to shrink the pool of political appointees, to freeze bonuses and even to shut down the government. None of these ideas has gotten much traction in the Democratic-controlled Congress, but the resurgence of a GOP majority after the November elections could change that.Now I know I'm the weird one, but I don't trust the party who perfected the concept of no-bid contracts to "reform" the federal workforce, but then again...I listen to music on the radio rather than the velvety smooth voices of right-wing blowhards.
Let's go through them one by one.
The hiring freeze. Leaving aside the question of whether a federal hiring freeze is really the message you want to send during a period of high unemployment, how is this going to be feasible? Like it or not, there are jobs for the Feds to do. From park rangers and meat inspectors to groundskeepers and accountants, things must be done. A hiring freeze only ensures that they'll be done by contractors. You don't like paying the payroll? Try paying the payroll and the profits.
Blocking the pay increase. Again, leaving aside the question of whether that's a good message to send during a down economy, how is this going to help us? I'm not denying that ditching this pay increase won't save money. That's a mathematical fact. But is the money we'll save worth the lack of incentive? Incentives matter.
The two week unpaid vacation. I wouldn't mind two extra weeks off and if I knew it was coming, I think I could jigger my finances around enough to cover my bi-weekly mortgage payment, but still. Things must be done, remember, and we can't keep closing the courthouse on Fridays. If we aim to save $5.5 billion, let's just cancel a contract with Accenture or something.
Firing workers who owe federal taxes. Hell, let's not stop there. Let's fire everyone who owes federal taxes. That way the taxes never get paid. But seriously, why would you do that? There are many ways you can owe federal taxes, and not all of them make you unfit for employment. Maybe you got a windfall. Maybe you put the wrong number in the wrong box. Owing federal taxes does not make you a bad person, so let's stuff this idea back in the box.
Shrinking the pool of political appointees, alright, whatever. I say expand it. The pool, that is. Political appointees shouldn't be chosen from no shrunken pool.
Freeze bonuses. Leaving aside whether that's the message you really want in an economic downturn, do we really need to deprive the workforce of even more incentives? We're already snatching their pay raises, making them take an unpaid vacation, digging into their bank accounts, and making them do more work because of this stupid hiring freeze. Maybe we should beat them with a stick, too.