The debate over pay for federal employees has been heating up this week with the House expected to vote on a bill that would extend the pay freeze on the federal workforce. Federal employee unions and the White House both came out against the bill, and now the bill’s sponsor, Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-FL), is promoting the bill in an op-ed ahead of the pending vote.
DeSantis said in his article that federal spending is out of control and that giving non merit-based raises to federal bureaucrats is evidence of that.
DeSantis also recently said that he intends to refuse the pension and health care plan available to members of Congress as a reflection of his desire to serve his constituents rather than make money.
Part of what DeSantis wrote this week reads:
It’s hard to imagine justifying such a pay increase when the average federal employee’s compensation in Washington D.C. is nearly double the median U.S. household income of roughly $50,000 per year, especially when the cost to taxpayers for implementing this across-the-board pay increase is $11 billion in new spending over 10 years. This action alone shows that President Obama is not serious about controlling Washington’s insatiable spending.
If common sense alone isn’t enough of a reason to support this bill, the following facts from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) make a very compelling case. For example, taking benefits out of the equation, federal employees make nine percent more than private sector workers overall. Highly-skilled employees (with a professional degree or PhD) were the only federal employees compensated less on average than their private sector counterparts. And in assessing compensation, the CBO study did not even quantify certain benefits, such as job security, enjoyed by federal employees. Of course, private sector wages have remained stagnant or have even declined since the recession began; compensation for government employment must bear at least some relationship to the private sector economy that pays the taxes necessary to support it.
What CBO facts is DeSantis referring to? The Congressional Budget Office released a study last year which said that, on average, federal employees come out ahead on pay and benefits when compared to their counterparts in the private sector. For details on this study, see CBO: Federal Compensation 16% Higher Than Private Sector.