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The federal pay freeze: Will a brain drain follow?

Federal workers will soon face the fate many of their private-sector counterparts have confronted for the last couple of years: Their paychecks won't increase. President Obama is calling today for a two-year pay freeze for most federal workers that includes civilian Defense Department members but not military personnel.

The move is being billed as a painful deficit reduction measure that will save billions in the short term, with $2 billion in savings expected in the current fiscal year and some $28 billion over the next five years. What's getting less attention is the long-term impact on federal talent Monday's announcement could make.

Federal workers had to have known this was coming. Private -sector employees have endured pay freezes--not to mention pay cuts, hiring freezes and furloughs--for several years now as the recession forced corporate managers to take drastic measures to bolster balance sheets. So there's likely some amount of goodwill stored up that federal managers can tap for the time being. Unemployment remains high and corporate hiring is still stagnant, so few federal employees are likely to be able to jump ship anytime soon. If, at the end of two years, the cost-of-living raises return and too many painful cuts haven't been enacted between now and then, the pay freeze is unlikely to take much of a toll.

But if the freeze is extended, or much deeper cuts to benefits or jobs get passed, as Republicans have said they'd like to do, then today's move could be tomorrow's loss. Highly skilled federal workers, despite all the stereotypes about fat paydays, actually make 24 percent less than their private-sector counterparts. Lower-level federal workers may get paid more, and there may have been an expansion in the number of highly paid federal workers in recent years, but pay for the doctors, scientists and engineers among federal workers, for example, is really much less.

As a result, as I've written about before, federal managers are already tapping other sources of motivation for these staffers besides pay. Their employees are already well aware that they're serving their country and doing work that could have an impact on many. So unlike their corporate counterparts, who under-use such intrinsic morale boosters when times are flush and can draw on them when cuts happen, federal managers can't suddenly turn on the same appeals when their workers' pay is frozen.

Facing a ballooning deficit and a historic recession, Obama is doing the right thing by freezing the pay of federal workers for the next two years. But those who want sharply deeper cuts should make sure they know the unintended consequences that could surface. When the economy does turn around, and someday it will, more austere cuts to federal pay and benefits could prompt a brain drain of the best and brightest, no longer willing to pass up better pay to be physicians caring for wounded soldiers, scientists deciding which important research gets funded, or computer engineers monitoring cyber-terrorists.

Corporate leaders like to talk about the "knowledge economy," and the unique advantages having the best talent gives them to compete in a global environment. We should want no less than the best and brightest talent for our country, too.

By Jena McGregor

 |  November 29, 2010; 2:32 PM ET |  Category:  Bad leadership , Corporate leadership , Crisis leadership , Federal government leadership , Government leadership , Presidential leadership , Public leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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There are no BRAINS, much less integrity, in the federal government scum called employees. They get paid to much. And have much higher pensions than the rest of us. Cut the pay of these scum 20%. Cut many of the boondoggle programs at the Johnson Space Center and Huntsville, AL.

Posted by: txengr | December 1, 2010 3:41 AM

******The only scum here is you and your demented mind. The federal employment rolls contain thousands of military veterans who unlike a piece of garbage like you, earned their jobs. Every federal employee I know works damned hard for their money and benefits and take a load of crap from people like you, ingrates who don't know what the heck they are talking about. I will bet you are one of those fools who rallied with a gun on your hip and screamed "death panels". I would bet on it.
You know nothing about the federal workforce and only have enough mentally to call those workers scum. I spent 27 years working for the Army, alongside exceptional citizens workers and boy would those workers love to be in your mealymouthed face when you call them scum.
Federal employees are honorable people who work hard and provide every service the citizenry needs. Indeed the first time something goes wrong, fools like you call for the government to intervene and whine when you cannot get what you want.
I would bet that you don't work, spend your day in some barroom and beeotche about
people who have more than you. Just because you are ignorant and have no class, doesn't mean you can call these workers scum. fritz

Posted by: papafritz571 | December 1, 2010 11:14 PM

There are no BRAINS, much less integrity, in the federal government scum called employees. They get paid to much. And have much higher pensions than the rest of us. Cut the pay of these scum 20%. Cut many of the boondoggle programs at the Johnson Space Center and Huntsville, AL.

Posted by: txengr | December 1, 2010 3:41 AM

******The only scum here is you and your demented mind. The federal employment rolls contain thousands of military veterans who unlike a piece of garbage like you, earned their jobs. Every federal employee I know works damned hard for their money and benefits and take a load of crap from people like you, ingrates who don't know what the heck they are talking about. I will bet you are one of those fools who rallied with a gun on your hip and screamed "death panels". I would bet on it.
You know nothing about the federal workforce and only have enough mentally to call those workers scum. I spent 27 years working for the Army, alongside exceptional citizens workers and boy would those workers love to be in your mealymouthed face when you call them scum.
Federal employees are honorable people who work hard and provide every service the citizenry needs. Indeed the first time something goes wrong, fools like you call for the government to intervene and whine when you cannot get what you want.
I would bet that you don't work, spend your day in some barroom and beeotche about
people who have more than you. Just because you are ignorant and have no class, doesn't mean you can call these workers scum. fritz

Posted by: papafritz571 | December 1, 2010 11:14 PM

The most damaging side effect of low pay for people who are in high demand in the private sector is the potential loss of regulators who know what they are regulating. The last thing the federal government needs is to hire incompetents for those jobs simply because it is unable to compete with the salaries offered by the corporations it is trying to regulate. Yes, there is bloat in some sectors of the government but I can already hear the screaming when necessary paperwork takes months to process because there is nobody there to look at the papers.

Posted by: serban1 | December 1, 2010 10:13 PM

Do you suppose the members of the House and the Senate will be included in this freeze or will they, like they do typically, continue to suck our tax dollars directly into their already bloated private accounts. Why is it ALWAYS the little guys, those in the trenches who actually generate the revenues, who take it in the backside? This kingdom is crashing folks and it isn't because of any kind of foreign influence, it's because it is rotting from within.

Posted by: larrypoke | December 1, 2010 9:06 PM

To be quite honest, I'm happy for this. In fact, there should be massive government layoffs. And elimination of a life pension and the ability to double-dip that pension. In general, the only people that become government working lifers are the people that couldn't make it in the private sector anyway. Of course not all, but most. If anyone wants to refute that, look at the people who are in the public eye, representing the government. DMV, Meter-maids, Police, etc. These are people who know they won't get fired and are paid for life after 20yrs. There needs to be MAJOR reform on the hiring practices. But then again, the people doing the hiring are, in majority, idiots also. It's a never ending cycle that reminds me of the movie 'Idiocracy'. Coming from the Marine aspect, we had to take something called an ASVP test. This is a test of basic IQ and comprehension ability. Top score is 99% and minimum standard is 35% (grunt level). It seems to me that a similar test should be applied. But a higher standard. I would personally accept no lower than 55%. Odds are that a test like this would free up a lot of positions, so deserving, hard working, people can get hired.

Posted by: robnation | December 1, 2010 3:23 PM

It's deja vu all over again. 30-some years ago gutless, feckless Jimmy Carter dumped all over Federal employees. Now, Obambam wants to follow suit, because these are the only people who can't fight back. Too bad. Hopefully, Obambam will turn out to be a one-term President, too.

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Posted by: seaduck2001 | December 1, 2010 1:57 PM

Unemployment remains high and corporate hiring is still stagnant, so few federal employees are likely to be able to jump ship anytime soon.
My colleagues who have jumped ship in the last couple of years are making quite a bit more. I've been approached a number of times and have been giving it serious consideration.

Posted by: seaduck2001 | December 1, 2010 1:53 PM

I'm so sick of everyone complaining about the Federal employee. Yes I am one so please refute with I'm commenting from work. God forbid someone take a 5 minute break and read the post to stimulate their brains outside of their current project.

I bust my behind for the government and I take pride in saving the government money. I work in contracts where I was required to have a degree to qualify, I was required to have 24 business credits, and it was "desired" to have a master's degree which I have. I know for a fact that in the private sector I could work for a company and easily make 30K more than I make now. I however chose the government because it's more rewarding and YES you do have job security.

I also know plenty of contractor buddies that make a ton of cash, get more vacation than me, get other perks like paid for cell phones and internet, get paid parking, and a lot of times paid gym memberships.

Let's be real here, most Federal workers are for the freeze. We DON'T have a say in these COLA increases. Also everyone is assuming that Federal workers are GS and NOT performance based which isn't the case.

Get educated before you lump ALL federal workers into useless and not working hard or contributing for your tax dollars. Just because Congress is a bunch of dolts doesn't mean that EVERY other Federal worker is. Like in every job you have abusers that do what they have to to get by and keep their jobs.

I worked for contractors for 5 years before this. I played the game right and a CONTRACTOR gave me a 50% raise to switch jobs. I also had people that worked with me as CONTRACTORS that were worthless. It happens everywhere.

NONE of my contractor buddies have taken a cut and most of them have averaged a much higher raise than me, and yes it is a similar PERFORMANCE raise. They work hard as well. Do they work more hours than me, no. I put in more than 40 when I have to, and 40 otherwise.

If you want to complain let's complain about Congress staying rich and still getting raises. Let's complain about the tax breaks that the rich often abuse and the fact that we are going to still give them "tax breaks" to better the economy. I mean come on, you don't think we leave those because every single person in congress benefits from them. Not to mention all the people that funnel into Congress and have them in their pocket.

Stop attacking Federal workers, because like many working class we busted our ass to get where we are. I got my Master's degree while working so I could get a Government job and have more stability.

If anything let's look at all the jobs that people DON'T take. If you are one of the 2 million that will be off of welfare by Jan 1st you might have to suck it up and get a crappy job. Believe me I've had tough times and I've worked crappy jobs when needed. I've worked hard and sacrificed to get where I am today.

Posted by: Federaly | December 1, 2010 9:37 AM

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU:
You are uninformed.

The fact of the matter is that I spent 25-years inside the G, so I actually do know a lot more about what really goes on than you ever will. Now that's reality.

Also, I don't get my knowledge from the Huffington Post headlines...

Posted by: john_bruckner | December 1, 2010 9:19 AM

During my 25-years in the G, I met more than my share of folks with college degrees who could barely read, and not write worth a damn.

Save your feeble protests about how smart federal employees are for the citizens who have never been inside the inner circles, and thus don't know any better.

Posted by: john_bruckner | December 1, 2010 9:13 AM

I am so sick and tired of people thinking that ALL government workers are stupid hicks that would not make it in the private sector and do not deserve respect for the jobs that they do. I have a graduate degree, an MS, 2 undergrad degrees, and a graduate certificate (ALL paid for by ME). I work with others that have MS degrees and even Doctorate degrees. I work with a former University professor, an attorney with advanced degrees in law and many more professionals that would not only make it in the private sector but probably would be your bosses. We work in the Federal Government because we want to, because we want to make a difference.

There are a lot of contractors in the federal government but that is because of various laws that have been put in place by previous administrations and there has been a reduction in the federal workforce in many agencies there are more contractors than federal workers, there have been various freezes in obtaining more workers and if you are not up to doing your work and doing it well you do get marked down in your performance and if it repeats you do get laid off.

I work hard and I am not a lazy brain dead young person. I have obtained my degrees and advanced degrees and I have learned a lot on the job from other very very knowledgable people. I have worked in several places in my young life including the private sector there are lazy stupid people EVERYWHERE, not just in the Federal Government but in the private sector as well. Putting all of the Fed workers in one pot is offensive.

Posted by: md152 | December 1, 2010 9:02 AM

The USG already gets all the 'C' and 'D' students that private industry (except for maybe Burger King) would never hire.

Posted by: john_bruckner | December 1, 2010 8:47 AM

You are uninformed. I am not a federal worker but I know some very bright people who work as federal/state government employees.

If you have ever witnessed 100+ people coming into the office and being handed a box to gather their things and 2 weeks severance pay, you might change your mind about the prospect of becoming a government employee.

You watch a grown man cry like a baby because jobs are tight. You watch him get in his car and just sit there in the parking lot and you hope to God that he doesn't kill himself. Then you run your mouth like you just did about what kind of people take Government jobs.

I entered the workforce during the 90's recession. I didn't have a wife and kids then, but I'll never forget the look on the faces of the people who weren't living in their parents' basement with nothing but a car note and a pager to pay for.

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | December 1, 2010 9:01 AM

I can't believe the hatred and vitriol expressed here at Federal employees. Why can't a life of public service working for government at any level be appreciated as much as someone who works for a private company? Why must one be termed "scum" and the other exalted? I find both sinners and saints in all levels of any organization, be it private or public.

Posted by: chrispub | December 1, 2010 8:53 AM

The USG already gets all the 'C' and 'D' students that private industry (except for maybe Burger King) would never hire.

Posted by: john_bruckner | December 1, 2010 8:47 AM

As a Federal Employee, the waste that goes on some agencies is amaizing. High Grades no work and no way to fire the losers.

They should cut the workforce and allow the agencies to get rid of the bad employees.

I have never seem so much waste.

Posted by: PRGirl1 | December 1, 2010 8:44 AM

There are no jobs to "drain" to.

Posted by: JohnnyGee | December 1, 2010 5:45 AM

This was by far the best comment I have seen and it bears repeating. There is little danger in federal workers leaving the federal government right now because there are no jobs to be had in the private sector anyway.

As a matter of fact, several of my former co-workers who were government contractors became government employees over the last 2-3 years because of the dearth of jobs in the private sector.

I'll also add that, as a Republican, I am appalled that my party is trying to extend the tax cuts on the rich. but they are emboldened by the uninformed who voted them back into power in the house of representatives 2 years too soon.

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | December 1, 2010 8:38 AM

I hope people leave, maybe then I could become an overpaid fed who never has to face a lay off in even the worst economy ever and while people can't find work and are losing everything I too can cry about not getting a .9% increase in cost of living pay when there is not increase in the cost of living.

I make awesome pay in the private sector and could make the same as a fed if they would hire me. I would love the extra time off feds get and that guarantee of never being laid off in a bad economy. A few months pay is a lot of money to lose.

Posted by: flonzy1 | December 1, 2010 8:29 AM

Most of the savings are really quite small. You really do have to cut military pay, at least for undeployed soldiers, to save any real money. It's $300 billion a year just to pay military salaries, the VA, disabilites, pensions, and TriCare for life. Also, 70% or more, of some federal agencies, are contracted out. There is a real danger that any possible cost savings will vaporize into escalating contracting costs. We have already seen this at Defense, and it's a major problem.

Posted by: magnifco1000 | December 1, 2010 8:26 AM

i don't get a pay raise every year automatically and i get by. government workers do the same job year in and year out with raises, better health care and every freakin' holiday off that i have to work. if they got raises, based on their performance,and could be fired like the average american worker, they would know what work really is.

Posted by: BRIANSWARTZ | December 1, 2010 8:25 AM

As Obama has always done, he threw politically expendable allies under the bus. No big surprise. At first I was definitely irritated, my wife and I are both attorneys that work for the federal government, and struggle to pay our school loans, mortgage and child-care costs. Now, after seeing the numbers - 2 billion dollars in immediate savings - I'm a little less irritated. That's a lot of money, and we understand the deficit is a serious problem, maybe this is a worthy sacrifice.

Posted by: DPoniatowski | December 1, 2010 8:03 AM

faced by an economic crisis and believing that some in the oposition party may make serious suggestions about reducing the size of the Federal work force or sweriously cappuing pay BOLDLY announces a two year pay raise freeze for the said force- thus preventing accross rthe board pay increases of some 1.5 to 2% in the next two years.
which of the following adjectives best describes this action-

unpolitical but necessary

Posted by: 27anon72 | December 1, 2010 7:57 AM

I predicted this article would be written as soon as I heard about the President's proposal, I forecast 2 weeks, never thought it would only take 2 days....

Posted by: Yette1 | December 1, 2010 7:56 AM

Let's be honest. Most gov't workers aren't going anywhere. They're on the gravy train now. I work in DC in the private sector and know a ton of them. It's a joke - for the most part - in what they do and how well they're compensated.

Posted by: shanks1 | December 1, 2010 7:56 AM

Deficit cutting ideas - Have Iraq pay for the war from their budget surplus; get out of Afganistan now - if they bomb us we nuke them; only have one jet engine for the new fighter plane; take the upper limit off of social security taxes; raise taxes for adjusted gross income over $1M; trim back the federal workforce a few percent without allowing the increase of contractors; trim back the intelligence budget ALOT; drastically reduce the federal funds to Alaska - why do we support the entire state while they all have boats, nice houses, private planes, etc; eliminate tax earmarks in addition to appropriation earmarks - much more abuse in tax earmarks; limit lobbying expenses to 0.001% of taxable corporate income; if you freeze federal pay do not exclude the judicial or legislative branches or the military; bring 50% of the troops stationed overseas home permanently and cut the troop levels; cut the Feds in DC but keep the Feds in the real jobs in the rest of the country; sell federal utilities - why are we in the utility business?; increase the pay for increased talent for SEC auditors, engineers and scientists. I can go on and on but each of the above ideas has their own interest group with tons of money on the sidelines.

Posted by: misterpond460 | December 1, 2010 7:53 AM

I have never understood why government workers at all levels believe the laws of economics should not affect them!

Posted by: rstpierre | December 1, 2010 7:40 AM

Those that can leave, will. The private sector does pay better for the same job position, but they also expect better qualifications and performance. So, those that can leave, will, but it will be a very small number. Very small, maybe 5% but probably less. Govt. pays less than the private sector, provides fewer perks too, but you don't have to have a college degree to become a senior contracting officer for example, don't have to have studied law or business. All you have to do is show up and take a few classes (no tests) and hire a private contractor to oversee any technical requirements.

Posted by: wmboyd | December 1, 2010 7:16 AM

All of you stating again and again that federal workers are overpaid and need their pay cut (and yes I am one), say this out loud, over and over until it sinks in, "We will freeze the border guard making $36,000 a year's pay and save 2 billion dollars in order to PRESERVE the tax cut for millionaires that will cost us $700 billion..." Say it and be proud. I don't mind the pay freeze, even though we make nothing like the lies being bandied about (according to USA Today I could take a pay cut of 20,000 and still make 20,000 more than I really make), but WE ARE FREEZING THE PAY OF THE AVERAGE CITIZEN WHILE MAINTAINING A TAX CUT FOR THE RICHEST 1%!!! All should feel the pain.

Posted by: kawilson69 | December 1, 2010 7:01 AM

No risk here...

Posted by: OneWhoSpeaksTruth | December 1, 2010 6:46 AM

In any Corporation - which the Federal Goverment is - 50% of the people do all the work. A pay freeze will not stop the other 50% from reporting to work and play games and watch porn all day on their PC and still receive a paycheck. So how is this trimming the deficit.
I say trim the federal workforce and get rid of the EPA, FHA and Education Department and we will have no deficit.

Posted by: bigmac1810 | December 1, 2010 6:35 AM

There are no jobs to "drain" to.

Posted by: JohnnyGee | December 1, 2010 5:45 AM

There are no BRAINS, much less integrity, in the federal government scum called employees. They get paid to much. And have much higher pensions than the rest of us. Cut the pay of these scum 20%. Cut many of the boondoggle programs at the Johnson Space Center and Huntsville, AL.

Posted by: txengr | December 1, 2010 3:41 AM

What is especially odd is that this is considered a big concession for Obama. No pay raises? Boo hoo. This isn't even about pay cuts. This is a shallow attempt by the President to appear as if he is making really tough choices. He isn't.

Want some real tough choices that will really affect the budget? Try cutting the following useless agencies:

Department of Education
Department of Energy
Department of the Interior
Department of Agriculture
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Department of Homeland Security
Department of Labor

How about eliminating public sector unions? How about cutting all federal elected officials' pay by 50%?

Drastically reduce our unnecessary military presence in foreign allied countries.

I could go on and on.

Posted by: sublime9528 | December 1, 2010 2:40 AM

Ha. Where are they going to go? What are they qualified to do in the real world?

Posted by: Holcombe1 | December 1, 2010 2:00 AM

Now the overpaid dolts who sit and watch porn all day at the taxpayer's expense can relax. Their recently increased salaries will be frozen. There is no freeze on hiring more of them at these frozen salaries. The taxpayers lose again. Are we supposed to thank Obama? Think not.

Posted by: mlbduffy | December 1, 2010 12:43 AM

Much more effective way is to allow managers to fire useless employees. But the librals will never let that happen. Look at DC, OMG, bad teachers were fired, that was the worst thing that can happen.

Well it is evident you're not liberal because you can't even spell liberal. And if you weren't such a dumb arse you would know the neither the President,or Congress, nor any political party or persuasion has any authority whatsoever to interfere with government employees. They can only be fired by the managers whom they work for. And yes they can be fired and are aplenty. So now that you've learned not to continue making yourself look so ignorant, maybe you can study your nation's history and learn how to be a decent citizen. I know it will be hard for you, but just try it. fritz

Posted by: papafritz571 | November 30, 2010 11:37 PM

Much more effective way is to allow managers to fire useless employees. But the librals will never let that happen. Look at DC, OMG, bad teachers were fired, that was the worst thing that can happen.

Posted by: AT_MD | November 30, 2010 11:26 PM

The American people are no longer able to look to Washington with pride and happiness.
The government has failed us. The rest of the world is laughing as we appear to be Keystone Cops and clowns.

Posted by: gone2dabeachgmailcom | November 30, 2010 11:14 PM

Obama is totally without substance and has no original ideas. Sure, the federal employee is overpaid. But, why did he insist that was not the case as he ran for president. He continues to make Jimmy Carter look like a great president. I am sure Carter is cheering On Obama's total incompetence.

Posted by: gone2dabeachgmailcom | November 30, 2010 10:50 PM

Why do we listen to the republicans?
Smaller government means laying off Government Workers LOL. The Freeze is the first step to say if you want to keep your job go along with the freeze. The private sector does it all the time before layoffs.

Posted by: jet1994 | November 30, 2010 10:13 PM

We need to take a close look at the price we have to pay for intelligence. You can bet it's not low income or the poor that caused this devastation. I'm beginning to wonder about Socialism, I know I'm not the only one.

Posted by: shipfreakbo214 | November 30, 2010 9:56 PM



We HOPE others suffer as much as each of us.

We went from having money to having nothing but CHANGE.

Obama/Biden 2012. Yeah, right.

Posted by: OlafGunderson | November 30, 2010 9:09 PM

In one single press announcement, Obama has succeeded in convincing some that he championed fairness and frugality and saved a whopping $2 Billion. However, in announcing a 2 year freeze on Federal pay regardless of economic conditions the last year and this coming year, he effectively spread more pessimism than could be imagined. He effectively said, we all lose. The economy is broken. At least for 2 more years. So, the $1.7 trillion he spent to stimulate the economy and instill confidence is lost... and to save $2 billlion,,, he captures more pessimism than we ever had going clear back to March 2009. How's that hopey change thing working for you now Amerika?

Lastly, the problem is NOT that Feds won't get a 1.4 percent pay adjustment this year or any next year. The problem is that without any basis, Obama essentially threw out the Federal pay law. Unilaterally. And he waited until the day before he was required under the law to announce how much of the Federally lawful computed raise should be allocated to base pay versus locality. If it took him this long to decide this for 2011, why announce a freeze for 2 years? Chicken s4!t!

Posted by: OlafGunderson | November 30, 2010 9:06 PM

Please pull out your calculator and do the math because obviously the numbers are too big for you.

This "freeze" is projected to "save" $5 billion dollars over a 2 year period.

This federal government spends that in about 10 minutes every day. Congress will spend more on booze during their "fact finding" missions during that period.

Wise up and see this for what it really is: a pathetic attempt to curry favor with the public.

Obama knows he is powerless to enforce this freeze; that is Congress' job.

So once again we see Obama engaging in some pathetic Democratic Theater.

You want to cut the deficit? Stop all the wasteful spending; repeal Obamacare; force Rangel and the rest of the Congress to pay their back taxes; end farm subsidies; etc. etc. That solution is not hard, the difficulty is finding a politician who will do what is good for the US instead of what's good for his back pocket.

Posted by: krankyman | November 30, 2010 8:59 PM

Posted by: jimbob3 | November 30, 2010 8:33 PM

I don't consider the work of professional federal policy analysts making $123,000 a year to be commensurate with dental hygienists making $68,000 a year.

Posted by: millerroberta | November 30, 2010 8:54 PM

obama gave billions to corporations deepening the deficit and now wants to recovery some money from federal workers pay checks. obama, you are a real joker

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Posted by: zhengee88 | November 30, 2010 8:40 PM

There are some fine, very smart people in government service as well as the private sector. Having worked in both arenas for many, many years, I can honestly say there is nothing all that wonderful about private sector employees vis-a-vis those of the public sector. I saw dead wood on both sides and, in many cases, private sector supervisors were more remiss than those in government because they could more readily do something about non-performers and they didn't. Government supervisors must jump through so many legal hoops to get rid of non-performers that some give up trying. If money were the only real incentive for going into government service, there would be a dearth of talent and major void therein.

One final point that I would like to make one final point about the deficit: If the politicians want to do something meaningful about the reducing the deficit, they should bring all the troops hope from Iraq and Afghanistan and stop P****** away our nation's human and financial captial resources. The billions of dollars that we have and continue to spend to conduct those military operations were not then and are not now worth the expense. And for the record, it will never, ever be worth the expense!

Posted by: Ranger01 | November 30, 2010 8:34 PM

Will a pay freeze cause a brain drain?

Yes, it will. When I retire sometime after the new year, I plan to take my brain with me and put it to good use elsewhere.

It will take an army of contractors to replace me.

Posted by: millerroberta | November 30, 2010 8:34 PM

A "brain drain"? What a laffer that idea is.

The average government employee makes $123+K per year plus bennies while the civilian counterpart employee makes a little over $68K. The smart people are lining up for these jobs and a simple 2-year pay freeze will do nothing to change any of that.

What a useless article this is (once you know the facts).

Posted by: jimbob3 | November 30, 2010 8:33 PM

This move highlights the basic tenent of Obama.....that all people should be treated equally, regardless of qualifications, performance, or effort. An across the board freeze is stupid. Good workers should be rewarded and motivated. Poor performers should not be. Obama does not understand what makes people or the country successful. He is not a leader, he is not a doer. He is a charlatan that should be fired. He

Posted by: Splash3 | November 30, 2010 8:27 PM

Just so you bozos know, some of us don't get a step increase but once every 3 years. So that's a lot of lost buying power. We also don't all make 6 figures or get bonuses.

Posted by: alaskantuf_99 | November 30, 2010 8:27 PM

I voted for Obama but will not do it again. He is a weak President and does not core principles or the backbone.

Posted by: kevin1231 | November 30, 2010 8:15 PM

The amazing thing is that people inside the beltway consider ALL federal jobs to be more important, more prestigious than private sector jobs.

Conversely, people living outside the beltway consider ALL federal jobs to be staffed by people who do not work hard, get paid too much, have too many benefits, and who can not be fired.

Posted by: edgar_sousa | November 30, 2010 8:13 PM

I second what CAC2 wrote.

I worked for the federal government for over 30 years. I frequently worked more than 8 hours a day and weekends, with no overtime. During Katrina we had crews down in Louisiana working 24/7 in dangerous conditions to do what needed to be done with no questions asked. It was a disaster and we had to do everything we could to save lives and get commerce moving again.

It burns me up every time I read some right wing yahoo just make us sh!t about how lazy and overpaid feds are.

Posted by: Trakker | November 30, 2010 7:50 PM

Federal workers are the cause du jour for the bitter and hostile people who are taking over our country. I worked for the Federal government for years. On deadlines, I worked until 4 AM, and on weekends and holidays, with no overtime pay. I got less than 2% a year in raises. I left for a private sector job that paid more, covered more of my health insurance, gave me a week more of vacation per year, and had a 7-1/2 hour work day rather than 8.

Anyone who thinks that Federal workers are lazy and overpaid doesn't know what they are talking about. I have a Master's degree. I made $65,000 a year working for the DoD. I left for $84,000, and the additional perks I already mentioned, and I never worked a night or weekend again.

Give me a BREAK! Focus your anger on the real culprits -- greedy Wall Street bankers using bailout money for their million dollar bonuses, overpaid politicians who do nothing for the working class because they are all in the pockets of the Wall Street bankers and corporate America, and the richest Americans who are not paying their fair share in taxes and will probably retain their Bush tax cuts that put more money in their pockets in tax breaks than most of us earn in 5 years.

Leave your fellow, hard-working Americans alone.

Posted by: CAC2 | November 30, 2010 7:35 PM

My position is that Military and Civilian employees are all volunteers who work for the government. No one is drafted or made to work for the government.

Civilian employees must pass tests or qualify with specialized skills for their jobs. There is no on the job training - you must be qualified for the job.

Military enlisted have less stringent requirements and are trained on the job - Military officers have more rigid requirements like civilian employees.

Civilian Employees should get similar benefits, especially in this day of terrorism and attacks on federal buildings & places where government employees work.

Some military spend their entire careers within the CONUS working next to civilian employees. Some military never see battle. Military get 100% healthcare for themselves and their familities as part of their pay and benefit package. Military in combat zones get special pay while there.

Some civilian employees spend their entire careers overseas or on the "front lines" in danger of bomb threats, working with would-be terrorists as CIA, FBI, NCIS, and other alphabet soup initials, working in Federal buildings like Oklahoma City where HUD employees & other employees were bombed, working at airports scanning for bombs, and working along side military personnel.

Civilian employees must pay for health insurance, not only for themselves, but for their families while employed and after retirement. While there is some break on insurance rates, it is still expensive.

If military employees are injured on duty, they get special pay and later they receive special pay and a full retirement.

Civilian employees if injured on duty get special disability pay until they are eligible for retirement, and then they get retirement pay only and no disability pay for injury in line of duty for US.

Why should military volunteers get cost of living raises and civilian employees nothing?

I worked 30 years for the government, and every day we were aware of the dangers of working in Federal buildings, court houses, etc. and working with clients who sometimes carried and even laid guns on counters in front of us during investigations or reviews, and who said they "hated" the government. We often worked in one city, and stayed in another for safety sake. And this was before 9/11.

The military who work for the government are not the only ones in danger.

Posted by: SCVoter | November 30, 2010 7:33 PM

I am sure glad I haven’t finished my holiday shopping. As a Government worker I now realize I need to quit spending. I was talking to my next door neighbor who works for a Government Contractor and he is afraid that this freeze will cause his company to stop giving a pay increase too. He told me he decided to cancel his family trip to Disney World, just to play it safe. It looks like a lot of people and companies will be affected by a Government pay freeze. I guess this is what they mean by trickle down.

Posted by: bbaird1 | November 30, 2010 7:09 PM

Political Philosopher Rush Limbaugh

explained today

thats this "pay freeze"

is not effective as all federal employees can still get step in grade salary increases

at whatever their GS level is

Posted by: ProCounsel | November 30, 2010 6:54 PM

We don't need a competent Federal work force. Let's hire Brownie back to run FEMA. We need austerity on main street to support the banker's bonuses.

Posted by: t2123 | November 30, 2010 6:46 PM

a federal pay freeze is NOT enough

america demands



overpaid employees

feeding at the federal trough be


and it WILL happen

once obama realizes that federal employees are even more unpopular

than he is

and FIRING Federal employees will gain at least 10 approval points

federal employees–thin the herd

Posted by: ProCounsel | November 30, 2010 6:44 PM

Wall Street Journal-Federal Employees Grossly Overpaid

“These federal employees operate in a pay-and-benefit universe that no longer exists in the private economy.

According to recent analyses by USA Today, total compensation for federal workers has risen 37% over 10 years—after inflation—compared to 8.8% for private workers.

Federal workers earned average compensation of $123,000 in 2009, double the private average of $61,000.

Unions like to argue that federal jobs are unique, yet in occupations that exist both in government and the private economy—nurses, surveyors, janitors, cooks—the federal government pays 20% more than private firms.”

Source: Wall Street Journal November 30, 2010

Posted by: ProCounsel | November 30, 2010 6:36 PM

Less you forget the federal worker does not decide where the tax payer monies go. The ferderal congress and senate and president does. We are not responsible for the defficte(sp). Were the workers at enrron responsible for what their boss did. I do not think so. So neither is the federal worker responsible for what decisions our government makes. And rest assured if the federal workforce declines then the void will be filled by contractors. This is true. Do not believe the hype. We give money to forgein governments for no reason. But do we complain. Our leaders have all sorts of benefits like free lunch and hospitalization. Yet no one complains. But when we (jealously) look at the federal worker and think that each one is making over a hundred thousand dollars a year then you have got your head on backwards. So do not blame the federal worker for wanting what they want blame the leaders for bowing to the haves so that they do not have to pay taxes. Most of our federaL leaders are millionaires so I would guess they would also fight to keep from paying taxes as well. Lets stop walking around with our eyes wide shut and put the blame where it belongs. Let alone if the government offered someone that is complaining a job they would take it.
Thank you

Posted by: mcsanders1 | November 30, 2010 6:34 PM


There he said that they are going to INCREASE taxes to you but they will "try" to not do it "in the thousands".

THAT'S THE REASON BEHIND THIS 'FREEZE'. To soften the pill for you for the increase in taxes coming in January.

READ HIS FAT LIP. Go to the video.

Posted by: coqui44 | November 30, 2010 6:27 PM

if there IS a "brain drain"

out of government

into the productive private sector

thats better for


Posted by: ProCounsel | November 30, 2010 6:26 PM

This would only be fair if all in Govt have wages frozen, congress, judges etc. To take it out on the little guy....who does not make the same salary as the Washington Govt Employees is stupid. Much like the ignorant comments listed here. Most workers are very considerate of their jobs and the burden placed on them. All these people see are news articles that are negative to DC Govt Employees....mostly management.

Posted by: scottp1953 | November 30, 2010 6:22 PM

Jabba the Hut–Poster Child for Federal Workers

In the Classic Movie --Star Wars, Jabba the Hut was a morbidly obese parasite

who endlessly demanded more food without any productive work

a poster child of the federal employees feeding at the trough

average federal “worker “ salary and benefits $123,000

average in private productive sector $61,000
source: WSJ 11-30-2010

Jabba the Hut

Posted by: ProCounsel | November 30, 2010 6:21 PM

I receive a 6 figure yearly fed government pension. I retired on my 55th B'day.......Reflecting back, I hardly hit a lick for 30 years. Now I'll collect 82% of my best 3 years salary for the rest of my life....and then my wife would collect 55% of what I received should I pass first.

Thanks America!

Posted by: vinnie777 | November 30, 2010 6:15 PM

To those Post readers complaining, or should I say wining, about the freeze: get real. We all know there are suffocating layers of 'fat' in the Federal work force that are burdening the delivery of government services. Even so, find me two -- just 2 -- senior civil servants in each Department and independent agency who are demonstrably and consistently making a difference in ways that justify their pay, then maybe the freeze should be lifted AFTER two years. Heck we need layoffs not a pay freeze. This recession is serious folks and it's about time the Federal government help deal with it. Everyone else is, and the Federal government should be serving, guess who, the taxpayer!

Posted by: jimpierobon | November 30, 2010 6:06 PM

Government workers are responsible for this mess. Why didn’t they do something to stop the greedy Financial Institutions from practically destroying our economy? Why should they get a 1.4% pay increase? The Federal Employees I know are too cheap to spend the increase anyway. They will simply save the money or worse yet increase their 401k percentage. I wonder how many of these so called workers have family members defending this country. I bet they are all slapping each other on the back at the spiked water cooler laughing because they have found a way to keep their family members out of the service. I have a novel idea why don’t we let private industry run this country? All of the greedy companies are now bankrupt and we are left with enlightened companies that simply want the rest of us to live a fruitful and happy life.

Posted by: bbaird1 | November 30, 2010 6:00 PM

"This is really a tax increase levied only on federal workers"

What bull.

When a business is failing, spending more than it is taking in, steps have to be taken to reduce costs. Look around, the gov't is failing.

Fed workers should be VERY happy that the freeze isn't a cut.

"ones who cry the loudest when their children gnaw lead paint off Chinese toys or eat E-Coli-laced spinach"

Actually those would have been good examples if Fed inspectors had found them before anyone got sick or died. That not being the case, to me they stand out as failures.

"IThe freeze amounts to 0.05 percent of the budget (just $28 billion over five years) so it is not even a drop in the bucket."

I've heard that argument all day, and I'm really growing tired of it. With the exception of DOD there are thousands of programs that are "just a drop in the bucket". And they all contribute to filling the bucket. Gotta start somewhere.

I do agree that the freeze should extend to Congress and Congressional staff. The Hill is probably the biggest cesspool of waste in the entire gov't.

Posted by: BEEPEE | November 30, 2010 5:57 PM

Brain drain... right. Federal workers are generally overpaid and underbrained in comparison to the privately employed. Instead of a freeze locking in their high salaries there should be layoffs.

Posted by: CharlesMcKay1 | November 30, 2010 5:54 PM

I hope Congress votes against it, unless it ensures ALL 3 BRANCHES of the Govt. shoulder the burden - and not just the Executive branch (and select members of the Executive Branch at that; notice Federal Judges and others making 6 figures are exempt from the freeze).

Posted by: astrosmylz | November 30, 2010 5:54 PM

There are some seriously delusional and limited concepts of what Federal employees do and the rigors that many go through to get their job.

If you're a DOD civilian you can spend months between being offered a job and being cleared to take it. Yes, you can sit around unemployed for the months it takes you to clear, WHAT A BENEFIT!

I really do wonder why almost all conservative cost cutting measure attack the middle class. Cut taxes for the rich, cut income to the middle class, watch the economy explode. What effed up logic.

Posted by: shadow27 | November 30, 2010 5:37 PM

Since it was brought up Congress DID vote down their automatic raises for 2010 and 2011.

I don't know if that affected staffers.

Posted by: shadow27 | November 30, 2010 5:25 PM

Hard working yes! Brain dead yes! A mixture for disaster.

Posted by: warrior5 | November 30, 2010 5:24 PM

Brain drain? Precisely where would these brains go? Into the decimated private sector where salary freezes are a staple?

Sadly enough there will be no brain drain. These people will remain sitting on on their bums, doing make-work tasks, and sucking up tax dollars that could be put to a much more productive use in the private sector.

Posted by: r_loveland | November 30, 2010 5:24 PM

We will have people leaving the gov't purely out of spite, as soon as they can, and they will try to ensure they leave gaping holes and lots of loose ends. This is really a tax increase levied only on federal workers. Gutless political grandstanding.

Posted by: dmm1 | November 30, 2010 5:23 PM

Judging by the unemployment numbers and the non-Feds commenting here I guess there's a lot of workers who couldn't make it in the private sector or if they have a job have time to comment here.

Posted by: ronjaboy | November 30, 2010 4:58 PM

Judging by the unemployment numbers and the non-Feds commenting here I guess there's a lot of workers who couldn't make it in the private sector or if they have a job have time to comment here.

Posted by: ronjaboy | November 30, 2010 4:56 PM

Where will these brain goes if the salaries are frozen,no where. Where will they go private industry where no one is hiring or Europe where they are cutting people from government or China where they are not hiring foreigners. They have no where but to stay where they are and hope they will not be cut. The feds needs to unload 30% of their workers for these people are lazy and sitting on the butt watching porno on government computers and not even get fired. Enough is enough and they all need to be fired and new workers who do not belong to union needs to get into the government.

Posted by: chaemoondriver | November 30, 2010 4:54 PM

If it is just a freeze on cost-of-living-increase AND there was no increase in the cost-of-living, then the freeze is justified. And I say this as the spouse and parent of feds who appreciate their jobs and do them exceptionally well.

How about enacting the COLA freeze for just one year at a time and see how things go after that? I can't rely on good long-term judgement from a lame-duck Congress!

Posted by: bernadete | November 30, 2010 4:46 PM

Pay freeze?!?!? How about a 20% cut in both salary and benefits and a permanent furlough of unnecessary employees?!!?!?

Washington and the Post are clueless!

Posted by: rwyoung | November 30, 2010 4:42 PM

Look, folks who debate about Feds who need or warrant a raise in this economy miss the point. ITS THE LAW. You want to review the law and make exceptions for specific levels of unemployment or numbers of States who have frozen wages... will the reverse be true? Just give us the playbook you want us to play by. Obama instead changes the game the night before the law required him to decide how much of the raise would be basic or locality.

It's outrageous

Posted by: OlafGunderson | November 30, 2010 4:37 PM


House Approves $4.6 Billion Settlement for Indian, Black Farmers.

So much for the $2 Billion Obama just saved by ignorning the pay law and shafting Federal government employees.

Deficit reduction? Give me a break.

Posted by: OlafGunderson | November 30, 2010 4:33 PM

First off, this is not a pay freeze. It is a freeze in COLA, not a pay freeze.

Every year, some career employees will see their grade increase until they reach the applicable working grade for their position. Grade increases can mean additional thousands of dollars in the pockets of the federal worker.

Once they have reached the highest grade for their position, many employees will continue to receive step increases which boost their salary from around $700 for lower graded employees to over $3000 for employees in the highest grades.

To say that pay is frozen is untrue in many, many cases.

Posted by: magellan1 | November 30, 2010 4:11 PM

If Congress votes to accept this then Congress should also vote to NOT get a pay raise for its members. Fair is only fair. Why should members of the executive branch be the only federal employees shouldering the burden? Why not make members of all 3 branches shoulder it together? Fair is only fair!

Posted by: astrosmylz | November 30, 2010 4:04 PM

As a federal employee, I am grateful to have my job and sufficient pay. But, I am galled by the pay freeze not being applicable to Congress. They have more control over whether my cost of living increases or not, so let them have the incentive to minimize cost of living increases so that the freeze has less effect on my ability to live on what I make.

Posted by: UDJuan | November 30, 2010 3:52 PM

Federal workers have brains?

Posted by: ravitchn | November 30, 2010 3:48 PM

I think a point is being missed here. There are a lot of us who haven't had a salary increase in years, cost of living or otherwise. And, we do not having matching for our 401k's nor the size or quality of the medical/dental benefits civil servants have. I don't begrudge anyone a salary increase, but in this economy sometimes you have to be happy you have a job.

Posted by: richileu | November 30, 2010 3:37 PM

Maybe you missed it....but UE in the DC area is pretty low...the idea that people have no where to go is not well founded...

Posted by: justmy2 | November 30, 2010 3:32 PM

Not to fear a brain drain. Federal employees are normally brain dead. We should raise the salaries, and benefits, of our men and women in uniform. They have our deepest respect.

Posted by: dangreen3 | November 30, 2010 3:30 PM

Just so you know, not all federal employees sit at desks. A lot of them are guarding the borders, inspecting meat plants, testing foods for pesticides, making sure that private companies meet the minimal requirements that have been imposed. Who are you going to call at the next natural disaster to come get you out of it when FEMA disappears? As little as you may perceive that FEMA, for example, does, you call for them to bail you out after a hurricane or tornado! Who will you or your parents call at Social Security when their benefits don't show up? Who will you call when you have a problem when at a national park?

Please. Be as noisy as you want about cutting the deficit, or about inequities between federal or private company benefits. But don't be noisy when YOU want something... And let's drop the invective. If you can't make your point without using expletives or bad language, you don't have much of a point!

Posted by: 30yrfed | November 30, 2010 3:16 PM

"Highly skilled federal workers, despite all the stereotypes about fat paydays, actually make 24 percent less than their private-sector counterparts."


I know many federal workers. In my experience, the lawyers & scientists who work for the federal government are more than happy to trade less pay for less stress, more benefits & greater job security.

Posted by: pmendez | November 30, 2010 3:15 PM

I don't know where the haters here get their information. A) most Federal workers are covered by a 401(k) style retirement just like in the private sector so there aren't many "fat government pensions", whatever that is anyway. B) locality pay is set by each locality based largely on, wait for it, private sector wages in that local area. If you're in the private sector you just get your pay, they pay you more in DC than they would in say Peroria, IL, so it's the same with the government. C) the Federal workers didn't have anything to do with you losing your job, or your company relocating or the recession that caused your company layoffs. D) most government workers don't make fat pay even in the DC metro area, so I know that they don't in the vast areas of flyover country E) finally, whatever the agency, bureau, department is doing is mandated by Congress, so you're going to have to find some way to cut the work if you're going to cut the people. Besides petty, ignorant jealousy ill becomes you.

Posted by: ronjaboy | November 30, 2010 2:41 PM

Dear federal cry babies, you are still getting your step increases so you are still getting a raise.

You are not getting a cost of living increase because guess what there has been no cost of living increase.

Also your employer is broke.

Welcome to reality.

Posted by: flonzy1 | November 30, 2010 2:38 PM

A brain drain in the federal government? You have to be kidding me! That is an oxymoron if there ever was one. As far as the posters complaining about tea partiers and Republicans, shove it! This nation is in dire risk of financial bankruptcy if things don't change. Obozo drove the deficit up with his socialized medicine, now he's worried about the deficit? Give me a break! You idiots out there who think Bush was the devil are about as lame as they get. A great idea of "bipartisanship" is two of you libtards swinging from different ends of the gallows!

Posted by: panamajack | November 30, 2010 2:33 PM

Wait, so you're telling me I can't have a raise during the biggest financial crisis of our lives? What is wrong with you people?!? It is absolutely sickening how out of touch some of you are. Just work hard and be happy like everyone else.

Posted by: jonathanharar | November 30, 2010 2:29 PM

As a former federal employee I know it is absurd to suggest that the federal pay freeze will cause an exodus of "brainy" federal workers. For each federal job vacated by brainy workers there will be at least ten applicants equally brainy applying for the vacancy. I became a federal employee by getting a top score on what was known as the Federal Service Entrance Exam. I had to score very high to over come the advantage given to veterans. I was employed by the DOD for two years before switching to the Department of the Treasury. I worked for the IRS for three years before taking a more challenging job in the private sector. Money had no bearing on my decision to return to the private sector.

Posted by: jimeglrd8 | November 30, 2010 2:27 PM

Yeah, right, a brain drain. Because they're going to go get a bunch of other jobs where exactly? We all know how unemployment reporting goes. We see about half the real figure since those who've been unemployed for a while are removed from the tally. There aren't other jobs to get. Perhaps those federal workers need a pay increase. Most Americans do. But if their salary is frozen it indicates one thing: they've still got a job. After the initial shock most should count their blessings. The grass isn't greener elsewhere. There is no other grass.

Posted by: lindsaycurren | November 30, 2010 2:25 PM

Crabs in a barrel. That's really what a lot of the complaining is all about. "I have a crappy life and job, why do these guys get to live on 'my' dime?" First, it's not your dime. Federal workers also pay taxes. Why are "my" tax dollars going straight into the pockets of right-wingers living in Nebraska? Just because they farm corn? I hate corn, so screw them. It's the right-wing race to the bottom. Let's see who we can get unemployed or underemployed the fastest. Let's weaken education so that corporations will bring in students from India and China to do the work while making six figure incomes because Americans are too lazy to get an education. These people are complaining because the auto industry, steel industry, and others finally wisened up and stopped paying them 50 dollars an hour to do the work that a 16 year old could do for 8 dollars an hour.

Posted by: nsu1203 | November 30, 2010 2:20 PM

A more simple solution would be to have all government workers, and all government contractors, who voted for the Tea Party and the Republicans, to resign. Just leave. Go home. Work in private industry.

You wanted less government by voting for the Tea Party and the Republicans, and now you have it. So don't whine about the freeze in pay and forth-coming RIFs, just resign now and save us all from your two-headed hypocrisy.

Hint: if you vote for your enemies, they will win.

Posted by: LeeH1 | November 30, 2010 1:46 PM

You want to reduce the deficit, end the wars, let those people fight for their own freedom. They will love it more than having it rammed down their throat. If not oh well live in mud shacks forever. Quit giving incentives to major corps that don't pay any taxes. Quit giving extravegant contracts to your lobbist buddies. Leave the workers alone.

Posted by: alaskantuf_99 | November 30, 2010 1:33 PM

Obama has also tried adding taxes onto the businesses (and jobs) that left our country for slave labor countries, but the Republicans voted AGAINST it, of course! The Republicans ARE the party of the MULTI-millionaires and billionaires so they NEVER vote for anything to benefit the middle class or poor! Yet, MULTITUDES of middle-class and poor people FELL FOR the REPUBLICANS' $4 BILLION DOLLARS WORTH of trash mularkey propaganda this past election to confuse them and voted AGAINST themselves! YES, the super-wealthy were happy their money bought those votes.

Posted by: Maerzie | November 30, 2010 1:31 PM

Before I retired from nursing, 50% of my paycheck was deducted for Social Security, state and federal taxes, health insurance premiums, and other things, before I ever even saw it! You just have to learn to live on what's left by buying at thrift stores, cooking from scratch, gardening, canning, freezing, hunting, and fishing. Some people have no idea even how to shop. Most welfare grocery baskets I see are loaded with potato chips, convenience foods, frozen hamburgers in buns,and other luxury type things, which are NOT necessary basic staples, and are simply for lazy people with LOTS of money. I haven't had a new piece of clothes or shoes for 20 years. I dress very well and keep my house up nicely from thrift store items. Young people don't have a clue how to conserve on ANYTHING!

Posted by: Maerzie | November 30, 2010 1:24 PM

So, what we're talking about is eliminating the COLA for two years. But, locality pay, step increases and bonus will remain in effect. My advice to federal employees...Be thankful, because it can be a great deal worse.

Posted by: PracticalIndependent | November 30, 2010 1:23 PM

Well, I am not happy with a pay freeze. Last year's "payraise" of 1.9% did not offset the increase in my healthcare, life insurance, dental and taxes. So after my payraise I took home even less. You tell me how that equates to a pay raise. As far as laziness, there are some deadbeats around here, but the vast majority do work hard and put in extra hours for free.

Posted by: alaskantuf_99 | November 30, 2010 1:12 PM

Everyone else in the private sector and state and county governments have had pay freezes. why should the Fed Gov be exempt?

Posted by: bobesoxmd | November 30, 2010 12:58 PM

Brain drain? How about congratulations and don't let the door hit you on the way out if you get a private sector job offer. That opens up a federal job for closure to help cut the deficit or a new job for the currently unemployed. Hit the road jack as they say.

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | November 30, 2010 12:44 PM

This is bold move by Obama. Although it is not a game changer, I like the unilateral move. It's a good start towards putting his money where his mouth is.

As far as brain drain, that's the same argument Wall Street made when their bonuses got clipped, isn't it? Are Fed workers more important than Wall Street workers?

I'd think Fed workers are worth a lot less, in general. They don't have stockholders to answer to for bad decision making. They're difficult to fire, so skimming that fat off, as happens in the corporate world from time to time, is not really done. Most companies trimmed 8-12% off their payrolls during 2009.

It's kind of like a forest where the rangers set small fires to burn off accumulated dead foliage. In places where this isn't done, a forest fire goes completely nuts.

Posted by: toshiro1 | November 30, 2010 12:43 PM

Federal workers don't need a pay freeze! They need the ELIMINATION of 50% of the superfluous positions. We have so many government workers that the right hand NEVER knows what the left hand is doing, so sometimes things get done TWICE, and sometimes they don't get done AT ALL because everyone thinks the "other guy" did it or is doing it!

I get soooo MANY emails, originating during working daytime hours, from government employees who obviously don't have enough work to do. I'm always on the end of the second or third mailing, so they aren't sent DIRECTLY to me, but it's obvious WHERE they originated. They originated from some of "MY employees!" YES!! MY employees! We are the people who are paying all these unnecessary positions. Let these guys back out on the market looking for jobs too, cuz they have WAY too easy a gravy train in their government cubicle!

Let's hire QUALITY instead of QUANTITY!! That's why there is a brain drain. Somebody who knew somebody, who knew somebody, got this lazy good for nothing a government "job" so he could sit and send emails! 50% of those highly paid, highly perked jobs could be eliminated and we'd get TWICE as much done by the people remaining because they would understand that their "JIG" is up!!

Posted by: Maerzie | November 30, 2010 12:37 PM

I and my family have been the victims of private sector employment for over 30 years! You would not believe the abuses that are manifest in trying to make a living in the private sector.
Federal employees have no idea how bad the private economy is!
Employers are by and large,"OUT OF THEIR MINDS"!
Unemployment,loss of benefits,miniscule raises,psychotic supervisors,endless uncompensated hours of work,you name it I've been subjected to it.Employers treat their employees like garbage!
I would welcome a pay freeze for just a little security and humane treatment for myself and family.

Posted by: skbarrow | November 30, 2010 12:36 PM

You gotta love the teabagger "logic" so common out here.

THEY didn't get a raise, or THEY lost their jobs, or THEY get treated like a slave, therefore the Federal government workers should do the same.

THEY hate anybody with a college education, anybody who isn't white, anybody who belongs to a union, anybody who is a teacher, and, well, just anybody who has a better job than them.

Obama threw Federal workers under the bus. IThe freeze amounts to 0.05 percent of the budget (just $28 billion over five years) so it is not even a drop in the bucket.

The only reason for it is that he wants to have a little "zinger" to throw out to the teabagger types in the 2012 debates. Not even the GOP was asking him to do this, he just did it on his own- it's an incredibly stupid move.

But he won't fight too hard on the REALLY important issues: like the $700 billion unpaid-for extra tax cut for the top two percent that the republicans are holding middle class tax cuts hostage for, nor will he go after the billions that Wall Street bankers are stealing from us.

Posted by: losthorizon10 | November 30, 2010 12:23 PM

Where are they gonna go? Silicon Valley? Wall Street? The Auto Industry?

Posted by: poppysue85 | November 30, 2010 12:21 PM

Why would they leave? They did not face layoffs like the general public did. If you think a .9% raise over two years will add up to the same amount a the 3 month average out of work time most of us had in the last 2-3 years you are a fool.

My cousins (fed workers) tried to get me to say it was unfair to them; I asked them if they had any idea how much money my wife and I lost when we both were out of work at the start of the recession. We lost over 25% of our earnings in 08 and they complain about a .9% raise, give me a break.

Posted by: flonzy1 | November 30, 2010 12:01 PM

The private sector freezes salaries often. I went for almost 1-1/2 years without an increase in salary, but with increases in benefit costs. Same thing happened in the recession of '82-'83.

If the predictions about the job market being soft for years to come, I would think that the brain drain would not be much of a factor, as competition for all jobs heats up.

Posted by: LAGirl1 | November 30, 2010 11:59 AM

Love the logic here. Private employers treat their employees like serfs, therefore the Federal government should do the same.
We are being set upon one another by the polticians, pundits, and corporate CEOs that created this mess.
They are determined to turn the clock back to the Gilded Age.

Posted by: JTinAlex | November 30, 2010 11:59 AM

Only a "freeze" and they're going ballistic? How about DRASTIC cuts! How about doing away with that union so that maybe the bosses could rid themselves of the fat sloth that invades their office spaces in a sea of unproductivity. How about tying pay to performance of the individual - no across the board end of year bonus (socialism). How about streamlining the Federal government into an efficient model based on competence and meritocracy instead of longevity and the size of a rolodex... this is only a start and a bad one at that!!!

Posted by: Capitalist-1 | November 30, 2010 11:58 AM

There should be turnover in jobs with the Feds. Maybe this is why "the government" is never used as the exemplary for success and effectiveness in American life - but instead a laughing stock. Gov'ment workers hop on the gravy train, often through political, friend or family connections, and stay there until they can hop off with a fat retirement package. And when other American workers have lost pensions and retirement packages through abominations of Federal employees.

Posted by: mirrorgazer | November 30, 2010 11:57 AM

It will not cause a brain drain. It won't help the deficit either, but at least it will look to the uneducated like they are doing something.

The sad fact is that for the most part the majority of federal employees couldn't make it in private industry (not that private industry is THAT much better). One does not go to work for the federal government in order to make good money; the vast majority go so they don't have to work very hard and for job security. By leaving the federal government they will give that up and probably not make significantly more money.

Posted by: xconservative | November 30, 2010 11:56 AM

The goal is to eliminate retirement as an option for the average American worker. It was so before FDR and it will be so again.

Posted by: zbtausblo5 | November 30, 2010 11:53 AM

So many people of government employees. How embarrassing to come on this board and show the jealously.

Posted by: password11 | November 30, 2010 11:42 AM

Again as I've said before, in the interest of deficit reduction I have no problem with Federal Employees doing their part. But it is such a small portion. If there was real interest in my opinion to seek reduction in the deficit then there should be across the board cuts that effect all Federal Government, not just the employees. I've served in the military for over a decade, I've worked at a civilian with the Federal Govt and private industry. All agencies could do well to tighten their belts especially DOD.

Posted by: common2 | November 30, 2010 11:32 AM

This is the infected folicle on the Dems ass that is advertised as a major issue. While $2B is not much, it is a step (I would be careful about that brown lump under the second step.) So he does this, and then what? Use that to bail out another program, hire another czar, or purchase more Blackberry phones?

At some point he must...MUST address spending...not a favorite topic for anyone, but it is the elephant in the middle of the room everyone ignores.

Posted by: jbeeler | November 30, 2010 11:28 AM

Are Congressional aides civilian workers?

Posted by: HookedOnThePost | November 30, 2010 11:14 AM

Take a look at the low turnover rate for Federal employees in the DC area who are scientists and engineers , it is much lower than the private sector. If the pay was 24% less you would see more turnover.

Often people mistakenly compare private sector total compensation (what a contractor charges the govt) to a federal employee's salary as if the govet has no overhead or benefits.

Posted by: TKH2 | November 30, 2010 10:59 AM

I love how the same people who want to cut the government and pay no taxes are the ones who cry the loudest when their children gnaw lead paint off Chinese toys or eat E-Coli-laced spinach. Then you want to know why the government didn't do anything about it.

Why? Because you're a stooge of the really well-paid. You do know that Republican staffers swilling $9 beers on the Hill LAUGH at tea party folks and average people, right? Freezing federal pay will cut the budget 0.02% next year. It's an empty gesture and merely a PR move to placate ignorant people.

Posted by: WoobieRex | November 30, 2010 10:46 AM

You have to LOL at the $150k "average" salary!
If Bill Gates walked into a soup kitchen, the "average" income of all the homeless there would now be $150 Million!
Obamas hundres of Czars are his Bill Gates.

Posted by: snowbucks | November 30, 2010 10:44 AM

Jena McGregor wrote: "A two-year pay freeze may help fix the deficit in the short term,"

Hmm, NOT cutting spending will fix the deficit. Umm, hate to break it to ya but, basic math isn't your forte...

Posted by: illogicbuster | November 30, 2010 10:11 AM

ah, the usual hate mongers are at it again. All FEDS must be lazy, lame-brained losers. Nonsense, and you know it. Venting this type of tripe is silly, inane and otherwise demeaning only to you.

Most feds are hardworking people, working under legislation passed by Congress. We don't make this stuff up all on our own. Yes, we have decent pay, good benefits and some advantages the private sector doesn't. However, from what I've read and heard from friends in private industry, Feds lack a lot of benefits and perks that sound very good.

Stop dividing the country. Piss off a conservative - think for yourself!

Posted by: 30yrfed | November 30, 2010 9:59 AM

A "pay freeze"? Another meaningless Nobama gesture in a time of real crisis. The "freeze" will be easily circumvented by "step" elevation and the bonus system. We need to begin firing federal workers,cutting the pay of those who are left, and downsizing the lucrative health and pension plans in which these people wallow. As for the "brain drain", I submit that this is a fantasy argument. Real brains work in the private sector -- not for government and not for its legions of parasitic federal contractors. Until he drastically reduces the scope of government and its dependents, Nobama should keep playing basketball with his sycophants.

Posted by: marcnmmi | November 30, 2010 9:32 AM

I've been on many sides, 10 years as a DoD civilian, 6 years in private sector, and 8 years now as a Realtor. Assuming Ms. McGregor is right about the 24% difference, that seems fair given USG employees don't have to deal with the risk of private sector employment. I (and many others) have lost jobs for frivolous, and unfair reasons. As a Realtor, you can guess how it's been for me the past few years. But Govt folks don't face that. They have what is the closest thing to "safe" employment. So it's only fair they're not paid as much. Remember the phrase "Risk & Reward." It's supposed to mean something.

Posted by: DaveHagigh | November 30, 2010 9:10 AM

brainstorm and braindrain the unwanted expensive federal toilet.

Posted by: therapy | November 30, 2010 9:05 AM

With the kind of Federal Government America has, a brain drain would be a huge improvement. We have a bloated beaurocracy sucking our Treasury with massive retirement and health care benefits, benefits not enjoyed by the taxpayers that pay for them. We could survive with much less-things could'nt be much worse than they are now.

Posted by: lionelroger | November 30, 2010 9:01 AM

Heh heh, What brain drain? They're all brain dead, as is intended. Young people leave because they don't like what civil service does to their mind. They become lazy and brain dead.

Posted by: glenmayne | November 30, 2010 8:53 AM

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