Republicans Want $194 Billion More in Cuts to Federal Government Employees

Among the numerous outrages of the proposed Republican budgets including privatizing Medicare and Social Security and slashing food stamps, comes this more minor but still appalling development:

The House and Senate Republican budget plan announced this week would continue hits on government workers, as expected, with cuts that could lighten their wallets by up to $194 billion.

It oversees federal employee issues in its broad portfolio. But the agreement gives no instructions on reaching the budget savings. Just where the ax might fall remains to be seen. Given the committee’s oversight, however, federal pension benefits and the Federal Employees Health Benefits program are likely targets.

It would be one thing if the wealthy in the U.S. were dramatically overtaxed somehow. But they aren’t, of course. It’s very much the opposite. Income inequality has never been higher, and the top 1% (and in particularly, the top tenth of the top 1%) are doing better now than they ever have–largely at the expense of all the rest of us.

There’s an argument to be made that federal employees aren’t hurting as much in this economy as many other Americans, given that the median salary for federal employees stood at $74,714 in 2013. And it’s certainly true that the metro D.C. area has become one of the nation’s wealthiest–although that’s mostly due to the meteoric growth of the corporate lobbying sector.

Still, particularly in large cities with their skyrocketing housing costs, that median salary makes federal workers squarely middle class workers. A great many of them could command higher salaries and benefits in the private sector doing less beneficial work.

Ultimately, cutting these benefits is bad for the economy. Slashing healthcare, pensions and salaries for middle-class workers means that these workers will be forced to tighten their own belts, delay necessary medical care and take food out of their own kids’ mouths, which raises external costs and depresses consumer demand.

And all so that billionaires can pay even less money in taxes. It’s perverse.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.