Republican “selfless” payroll cuts are nothing of the sort

Posted on December 23, 2010

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Remember a couple of weeks ago when Speaker-of-the-House-to-be John Boehner made that noble announcement that – in order to help reduce spending and “help the American people” – he was going to reduce his entire staff’s payroll by five percent?  What a guy, huh?

Well, while the gesture seems magnanimous on the surface, it becomes nothing more than empty fluff and creative accounting trickery when you look at the numbers behind it.

It is true: Boehner said he intends to reduce his staff payroll by five percent. But that’s after RAISING his staff payroll by SIXTEEN percent earlier this year. Net result: Boehner’s staff still gets an 11 percent pay raise while millions of Americans are taking involuntary pay cuts, losing their jobs, losing their homes, and wondering how they’re going to put the next meal on the table.

But don’t hold Boehner solely accountable for this smoke-and-mirrors chicanery.  There are literally scores of other Republicans (and several Democrats) doing the EXACT same thing.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has boosted his congressional office’s payroll by 81 percent since coming to Congress in 2001 – averaging eight percent per year through 2009.  Cantor pledged to reduce his staff’s payroll by 4 percent in 2011.

Michele Bachmann of Minnesota jacked up her staff’s payroll by 16 percent between 2007 and 2009. So far, Bachmann has not joined to payroll cutting pledge.

Jason Chaffetz, the Utah representative set to chair the House subcommittee overseeing the federal work force, says Washington must “figure out how to do more with less.” But the freshman lawmaker gave his own employees an average raise of about 9 percent this year.

Tom Coburn, the Oklahoma Republican who has long “fiercely criticized” federal pay, has given his staff an average jump of eight percent per year between 2006 and 2009. In 2010, Coburn gave his staff a “reduced” SEVEN percent raise because they wanted to “chip in for the cause.”

Chaffetz and Coburn emphasized that while they may have spent more on salaries, they still came in well under the overall budget for House and Senate expenditures.  Somehow, “See? We’re not as bad as those other guys” became the official barometer for acceptable public servant behavior in Washington, if these two are to be believed.

Federal payrolls have outstripped the private sector’s in recent years. Total individual compensation rose just 25 percent from January 2001 to January 2009, compared with 39 percent for the civilian federal workforce’s Meanwhile, congressional payrolls – at 51 percent (under both Democratic and Republican leadership) – have climbed at an even faster pace than either the federal government’s or the private sector’s in the same timeframe.

A  recent House survey found that lawmakers doled out merit raises averaging nearly eight percent in 2008. Most of them also gave cost-of-living adjustments of up to four percent, and one-time bonuses averaging more than $16,800 per individual, the survey found. Most federal workers are guaranteed raises of 3 or 4 percent per year, in addition to COLA increases.

Keep in mind, this is the same Congress that voted AGAINST a Social Security and Veteran Assistance cost-of-living allowance increase last month for the SECOND consecutive year.

So, the next time you see one of our “honorable” public servants on TV or in person, clamoring about “cutting spending,” and “the American people this,” and “the American people that,” remember that these hypocritical bastards are laughing at you … all the way to the bank.

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