Congressional Republicans have struck again, and once again it’s in the name of a misguided Austerity. Waaaaay back in 2010, when the “trim the budget” train that threatens to flatten us all was really picking up steam, Congress and the President agreed to freeze pay for federal workers.
The move was done with cost-savings in mind – estimates put the savings at anywhere from $5 to $11 billion or more. That’s certainly not chump change, but perhaps the largest single effect was the message it sent. Over the last few years, layoffs, downsizing, and belt-tightening have become the standard operating procedure across the board in the private sector and there’s some comfort to be had in seeing the federal government acknowledge this (even if it doesn’t do a whole heck of a lot to directly “help” the beleaguered workers in the private sector …).
But, that was then and this is now. On Friday, the Republican controlled house voted to continue the federal pay freeze for at least another year, sending a direct message to the President and federal workers.
That message? Fuck you.
As pointed out by The Contributor, while Congress is oh-so-quick to slash the salaries of federal workers (“It’s the over-paid secretaries at Agriculture, I tell you!”), it doesn’t give one tiny ounce of bother how much it’s paying everyone else associated with the federal government … particularly when those salaries are a damn sight more substantial than the guy ringing up the groceries at a military commissary (on-base grocery store).
Case in point, the defense contractor. Remember them? Halliburton? How about the Blackwater Xe Academi-style folks running around war zones, doing the jobs the military supposedly can’t or won’t cover, generally making a gigantic mess of things. They do such a spectacular job that one, if not the largest, supplier of said forces has had to change its name several times to attempt to shake off the perpetual bad press. As it currently stands, the pay for defense contractors is capped at a paltry, how-do-they-get-by $763,000 a year.
That’s nearly double the salary of the PRESIDENT, who is paid $400,000 per year.
Stop and think about that. If Congress were truly worried about the salaries being paid out by the federal government, would it allow this? Would it say, heck yeah, this guy:
… who does a job that military personnel are paid typically $16,000 – $70,000 per year for (figuring in for rank, service, and promotions carrying you away from such miserable work) and is absolutely nothing more than a mercenary, should be paid twice as much as this guy:
… who manages a budget of trillions, a work force in the millions, with active daily interests in every part of the globe, round-the-clock responsibility and, what some would say, is the most stressful position in the world?
Not hardly. This is just another example in the long list of examples of Congress sucking on the teat of the military-industrial complex, greasing the wheels for campaign contributions and cushy post-elected office jobs, freaking out about how it spends its nickels while routinely losing hundred-dollar bills.
The sad thing is, Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia actually tried to cap those salaries at a much more reasonable $230,700 (I’m even willing to cut them a break, considering the nature of the work and the gross under payment of our military), but that cap never made it in to law.
Oh well. No pay raise for you, Mr. Federal Worker. We have contractors to pay!