The GOP’s 2013 federal budget blueprint released today contains a number of proposed cuts for federal workers including a 10% reduction in the federal workforce and an extended pay freeze through 2015.
The proposed cuts in the budget should not come as a shock. We reported last week that federal employees could expect some form of proposed cuts in the budget, plus given the plethora of proposals that would scale back on the federal workforce ranging from workforce cuts through attrition to freezing step increases that have been suggested since the pay freeze was first proposed by President Obama in 2010, it stands to reason some form of cost cutting via public sector workers would be utilized.
The Proposed Cuts
The budget proposes the following:
- A 10% workforce reduction over the next three years through attrition
- Extending the current pay freeze through 2015
It is estimated that these cuts would save taxpayers approximately $368 billion over ten years.
The impetus for these cuts is to slow the rapid growth of the public sector which has been crowding out growth in the private sector. According to the proposal, “The federal government has added 147,000 new workers since the President took office. 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.”
The budget proposal notes, however, that the duties of the federal government do require a strong federal workforce. So while the GOP intends to make cuts, they don’t want to take them too far. Hence, the proposal says that “Pay increases and fringe benefits [of the federal workforce] should be reformed to better align with those of their private-sector counterparts.”
This statement is referring to the CBO’s recent study which shows that public sector wages and benefits continue to outpace those of the private sector, noting that the CBO showed that federal workers receive, on average, 16% higher pay and benefits to comparable workers in the private sector.
“The reforms called for in this budget aim to slow the federal government’s unsustainable growth and reflect the growing frustration of workers across the country at the privileged rules enjoyed by government employees. They reduce the public-‐sector bureaucracy, not through layoffs, but via a gradual, sensible attrition policy,” concludes the Budget Committee.
The 2013 budget proposal is nearly identical to the one put forth by the House Budget Committee last year in terms of its approach to reducing the federal workforce. A statement from last year’s proposal reads, “[The
proposed budget would] boost private-sector employment by slowing the
explosive growth of the public sector, achieving a 10 percent reduction
over the next three years in the federal workforce through attrition,
coupled with a pay freeze for the next five years and reforms to
government workers’ generous benefit packages.”