It’s never the politically-popular thing to do to take an expected pay raise from workers, even if they do work for the federal government. While public-sector unions have driven government salaries through the roof, it’s hard for voters to see Joe and Jane Public Worker as the “problem” and not the fat cats in Washington whose salaries dwarf those out there in the field. Not to mention all the corruption and waste that leads to incalculable amounts of taxpayer money being flushed straight out into the ocean.
Even so, every little bit counts, and there’s no question that public workers are making salaries that are way out of proportion to their private-sector counterparts. These inflated wages were supposed to blow up again in the new year when federal workers were scheduled to receive $25 billion in pay raises. President Trump, however, put an end to that on Thursday, telling Congress that the cancellation was necessary to “put our nation on a fiscally sustainable course.”
“We must maintain efforts to put our nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases,” Trump wrote. “I view the increases that would otherwise take effect as inappropriate.”
According to a recent study, employees of the federal government receive, on average, 80% more income as a mixture of salary and benefits when compares to private sector workers doing similar jobs.
Trump’s decision was lauded by fiscal conservatives, including Sen. Joe Kennedy of Louisiana.
“I’m pleased to see that @POTUS is canceling an across-the-board pay raise for civilian federal govt workers,” he tweeted. “Earlier this summer, I tried to accomplish this in Congress by submitting an amendment in the Approps Cmte. However, my amendment was rejected 2-29.”
Not every Republican was on board, however. Lawmakers from Virginia pledged to push through a new spending bill that would restore the raises. Virginia is home to thousands of federal workers, and Republicans from the state know it is political suicide to support cutting a pay raise, even if it is out of whack with a conservative agenda.
Rep. Barbara Comstock released a statement that said: “We cannot balance the budget on the backs of our federal employees and I will work with my House and Senate colleagues to keep the pay increase in our appropriations measures that we vote on in September.”
It remains to be seen if Congress will go along with the president on this one, but it strikes us as ironic once again that the guy who everyone accused of being a liberal Democrat who knew nothing about true conservative policies is turning out to be one of the most conservative presidents of all time. If only he had more Republicans with some backbone by his side, this White House would be unstoppable.