Bloated public sector needs a crash diet

Washington Examiner
Examiner Editorial
August 12, 2010

Twelve million jobs have been lost in the private sector since 2007, causing palpable hardship for families across America. More than $1 trillion in federal stimulus spending failed to spark new job growth, so they will probably have to keep scrimping and saving for months, maybe years, to come. The private sector has lost 12 million jobs since 2007, yet, even as the failure of Obamanomics becomes clearer by the day, Washington politicians keep feathering their own nests and coddling their special interest allies, especially public employee unions.

Look no further than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who called House members back from their August recess in order to pass President Obama’s $26.1 billion “stimulus” bill that is actually a bailout for members of the National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Obama and his fellow Democrats call it a stimulus bill because it saves the jobs of thousands of public school teachers and state and local government bureaucrats. It also keeps campaign contributions from government employees rolling into Democratic coffers.

Pelosi and her henchmen couldn’t find time to write a 2011 budget even though Congress is required by law to do so each year. But Pelosi had no qualms about calling members back from recess to keep those tax dollars flowing to members of the NEA, AFT and AFSCME.

Which brings us to this question: When are people in the public sector going to start carrying their share of the burden of the economic downturn? While much of the private sector has laid off workers, frozen pay and cut capital investment, public sector employees have lived high on the tax-fattened hog. Federal employment (excluding the military)at the end of July was 3,017,000, compared with 2,763,000 in July 2007, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s an increase of more than a quarter of a million federal jobs in less than three years. State governments added 12,000 jobs during the same period, while local governments added 29,000. That’s nearly 300,000 new paychecks for bureaucrats while 12 million private jobs disappeared.

As The Examiner’s Byron York reported Monday, the Heritage Foundation recently found that average federal employee compensation, counting salary and benefits, is $111,015, compared to just $60,078 for the private sector. It’s the same at the state and local level. There has been a deluge of news stories across the country about retired state and local employees who pull down six- and even seven-figure salaries, while also getting generous vacations, gold-plated health plans and obscenely high pensions. Obama’s solution is to freeze bonuses for his 2,900 senior political appointees for a savings of — fasten your seat belts! — $1.9 million, which equals 0.000615 percent of the total government civilian payroll costs this year of $244 billion.

It’s past time these people start giving something back. Freezing government salaries would be a good place to start.

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