Dems: It Would Be 'Unfair and Illogical' to Target Federal Workers in Payroll Tax Cut Deal

By on January 25, 2012 in Current Events with 17 Comments

17 Democrats in Congress sent a letter urging the conference committee considering legislation to extend the payroll tax cut through 2012 to oppose any additional cuts to the pay or benefits of Federal employees as part of the deal.

The letter said, in part, “Subjecting these dedicated public servants to additional pay cuts and retirement benefit reductions in order to pay for such expenditures as a payroll tax cut for all middle class Americans is unfair and illogical, particularly as the vast majority of federal workers are middle-income earners as well. Such cuts would also impede the federal government’s efforts to recruit and retain the best and brightest individuals.”

The members of Congress also noted that federal employees are already in the midst of a two year pay freeze and therefore were against extending it for another year.

In addition to opposing an extended pay freeze, the letter voiced opposition to other recent proposals that would adversely impact the federal workforce. Among the proposals mentioned in the letter:

  • A 1.5% increase in federal employees’ retirement contributions over a three-year period
  • Eliminating the FERS Social Security supplement for most federal workers
  • Requiring additional contributions to pension plans
  • Changing the high three to high five

 The full text of the letter is included below.

January 25, 2012


The Honorable Max Baucus
United States Senate
511 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Baucus:

As you begin meeting to craft a conference report to accompany H.R. 3630, we urge you to oppose any proposals 
that would require additional cuts to the pay or benefits of our dedicated federal workforce. Our federal public servants are the hard working men and women who provide vital operational support
to our military members; ensure our senior citizens receive their Social Security checks; protect our borders;
ensure the safety of our environment, food, and water; treat our wounded veterans; and research cures for
cancer and other deadly diseases. Federal employees reside in every state, and they implement every federal
program created by Congress. In fact, there are 10,605 federal employees in Montana according to OPM data
released last March. Federal workers have already made significant sacrifices to help reduce our government’s budget deficit.
For example, they are currently subject to a two-year pay freeze that will save $5 billion by the end of fiscal
year 2012 and more than $60 billion over the next decade. Federal workers are also facing the possibility of
furloughs and layoffs in the coming years as automatic spending reductions mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011
reduce budgets for agency discretionary salaries and expense accounts. Subjecting these dedicated public servants to additional pay cuts and retirement benefit reductions in order to
pay for such expenditures as a payroll tax cut for all middle class Americans is unfair and illogical, particularly
as the vast majority of federal workers are middle-income earners as well. Such cuts would also impede the
federal government’s efforts to recruit and retain the best and brightest individuals. We therefore urge you to reject provisions such as those in the House version of H.R. 3630 that would require an
additional one-year extension of the federal pay freeze initiated in 2011; impose a 1.5% increase in federal employees’ retirement contributions over a three-year period;
and eliminate the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) Social Security supplement for most federal workers. Additionally, we urge you to oppose provisions in the House bill that would make even deeper cuts in the benefits
of newly hired employees, who would be referred to as “secure annuity employees.” While most federal employees
contribute 0.8% to their retirement pension, under the House-passed bill, secure annuity employees would be obligated
 to contribute an additional 3.2% to their retirement pension. Further, the “average pay” used to calculate the
FERS annuity for these employees would be based on their five highest annual salaries rather than their three
highest annual salaries and would be subjected to a reduced FERS benefit accrual rate. If enacted, the combined
effect of such changes would lower pension values by roughly 30% for these employees despite requiring a much greater
 contribution on their part over time. Given the critical role that federal workers play in making our government work for our citizens, and noting the
significant sacrifices they have already made, we urge you to oppose any additional cuts to the pay or benefits
of federal employees. Sincerely, Elijah E. Cummings Stephen F. Lynch Ranking Member Ranking Member Committee on Oversight and Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Government Reform U.S Postal Service, and Labor Policy Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Eleanor Holmes Norton Gerald F. Connolly Member of Congress Member of Congress Edolphus Towns Carolyn B. Maloney Member of Congress Member of Congress Dennis J. Kucinich Wm. Lacy Clay Member of Congress Member of Congress Danny K. Davis Bruce L. Braley Member of Congress Member of Congress James P. Moran Bennie G. Thompson Member of Congress Member of Congress Lynn Woolsey James P. McGovern Member of Congress Member of Congress Adam B. Schiff John P. Sarbanes Member of Congress Member of Congress Donna F. Edwards Member of Congress

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce. Ian also has a background in web development and does the technical work for the FedSmith.com web site and its sibling sites.

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