Alexander's Column

Who Got Stimulated?

By Mark Alexander · Dec. 2, 2010

(This shakedown has nothing to do with the TSA)

“The sober people of America are weary of the fluctuating policy which has directed the public councils. … They have seen, too, that one legislative interference is but the first link of a long chain of repetitions, every subsequent interference being naturally produced by the effects of the preceding.” –James Madison

Barack Hussein Obama, intent on increasing your taxes in January by way of letting the Bush-era tax reductions expire (ostensibly to reduce the deficits Democrats created), has launched a ruse to steal the budget-cutting thunder of his Republican opponents.

First, Obama ordered a freeze on bonuses for some 3,000 of his high-paid political appointees. Then he announced a freeze on the wages of all federal workers for the next two years.

One Social Security administrator summed up the reaction of her fellow federal union workers: “That’s why Obama’s ratings are below Bush’s, and that’s hard to be unless you’re Osama bin Laden. I can’t wait until I retire.”

Well, given the fact that federal bureaucrats (Defense Department notwithstanding) are now endowed with grossly disproportionate wages and benefits, one can understand why retirement remains attractive for them. On the other hand, millions of private sector citizens will be working well beyond retirement age in order to make ends meet, especially given the increased tax burdens they’ll likely incur in the future to pay off Obama’s deficit.

Let’s review the most recent data.

Compared to more productive private sector employees, whose income is confiscated to pay government wages and benefits, hourly government workers are paid 57 percent more than those in the private sector for comparable jobs ($28.64/hour vs. $18.27/hour). Salaried bureaucrats enjoy average annual wages of $78,901, while those in the private sector average $50,111, and the number of bureaucrats collecting more than $150,000 a year has doubled since Obama took office.

When benefits such as taxpayer-funded contributions to pensions are included, government bureaucrats end up with 85 percent more compensation than their private sector comparables.

On top of that disparity, bureaucrat jobs are virtually tenured, both recession proof and unaffected by a dearth of productivity. Benjamin Franklin once famously said, “Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Today, however, you can add government jobs to the short list of guarantees.

Notably, Obama did not order a freeze on government hiring, and I can assure you that the number of exemptions for government agency wage freezes will eventually equal the number of government agencies. Additionally, Obama didn’t freeze promotions, meaning that any federal worker can receive a de facto pay raise by “promotion” into the next incremental GSA scale.

Since the beginning of the current recession, private sector employment is down 6.8 percent. On the other hand, Obama has used taxpayer funds and debt on future generations, his so-called “recovery program,” to grow the ranks of central government bureaucrats by more than 10 percent in the same time period.

To that end, a comprehensive research report by economists Bill Dupor (Ohio State University) and Timothy Conley (University of Western Ontario) concluded, “Our benchmark results suggest that the ARRA created/saved approximately 450 thousand state and local government jobs and destroyed/forestalled roughly one million private sector jobs.”

Of course, Obama’s wage-freeze charade fails to put any noticeable dent into his accumulating $1,000,000,000,000-plus deficits. Taxes, he says, must be increased to do that.

Once again, let’s review.

Like any devoted Socialist, Obama’s objective is to break the back of free enterprise, in this case, with unbearable deficits. When challenged about his motives, Obama invariably claims that he “inherited this mess” from the Bush administration.

However, the Executive Branch does not set the budget. Congress does. And from the ‘09 budget forward, budget deficits have increased greatly.

For the record, Democrats have controlled Congress since January 2007, about the time the housing market collapse began. Thus, Democrats controlled the budgets for FY2008 and FY2009 as they did with FY2010 and FY2011.

Obama Deficits Chart

For FY2008 Democrats compromised with President Bush on spending. However, for FY2009 Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid bypassed the Bush administration by way of continuing resolutions until Barack Obama took office.

Again, for the record, Obama was a member of the Senate majority in 2007 and 2008, and he voted for those spending bills.

The last budget deficit that Democrats “inherited” was FY 2007, the last of the Republican congressional budgets. That deficit was the lowest in five years, and it was the fourth straight decline in deficit spending. Thus, the only deficit Obama has inherited is that which he and his Democrat majorities generated.

Those pesky facts notwithstanding, a Republican majority is about to take over the House, and Republicans in the Senate seem to have found a spine.

If Republicans are serious about budget and deficit control, they should start by cutting their own bloated salaries and budgets. There is no greater sweetheart deal than being elected to our national legislature, where members of Congress are paid exorbitantly, and are eligible for lifetime benefits after “serving” for just five years – one term for Senators. If they are perpetually elected, as is the case with many members, they are eligible for almost 80 percent of their salary as a guaranteed annual pension.

Membership certainly has its privileges.

If members of Congress don’t like the pay cuts, perhaps we can cut their time accordingly. Send them home more often, and see if a little of the reality outside the Beltway sinks in.

As my colleague Cal Thomas opined this week, “The Founders were keenly aware of the danger of a Congress divorced from the realities of the rest of the country. During the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Roger Sherman of Connecticut wrote, 'Representatives ought to return home and mix with the people. By remaining at the seat of government, they would acquire the habits of the place, which might differ from those of their constituents.’”

If Republicans are really serious about the constitutional role of government, they should identify any and all taxes and expenditures not expressly authorized by our Constitution, and schedule them for termination. While they are at it, they should revoke congressional exemptions, and make themselves subject to the same laws and regulations they impose upon the rest of us. (Oh, and Mr. Speaker-to-be, return Pelosi’s opulent Boeing 757 to the Air Force, and settle for something smaller.)

For his part, poor Barry Obama lamented this week that he might have to delay his “holiday vacation” to Hawaii in order to get his tax-and-spend agenda through Congress. (How many golf outings and exotic vacations must our nouveau riche lotto winner take?)

Perhaps Obama should take a tax lesson from John Kennedy, the father of the modern Democrat party: “A tax cut means higher family income and higher business profits and a balanced federal budget…. As the national income grows, the federal government will ultimately end up with more revenues. Prosperity is the real way to balance our budget. By lowering tax rates, by increasing jobs and income, we can expand tax revenues and finally bring our budget into balance.”

Indeed, tax reductions in each of the last five administrations have resulted in tax revenue increases to the fed’s coffers.

Publisher’s Note: The Patriot Post’s role as a national advocate for Essential Liberty and leader of the charge to restore the integrity of our Constitution is more vital now than ever. It will, at best, take several election cycles to re-establish the primacy of First Principles and Rule of Law, and to reset our course toward Liberty. So our work continues in earnest. Please help us maintain that momentum with your support of our 2010 Year-End Campaign.

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39 Comments

Kerry Anderson said:

Mark, You are right on target! My wife and I are in our 60s and have been writing and voicing the same for years. I thank God for you and your staff and will continue to support in prayer and finance. Kerry Anderson Bellingham, WA

Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 11:48 AM

William Hicks said:

As a 20+ year federal employee, I would like to make one clarification. The pay scales are not GSA scales; they are OPM scales (Office of Personnel Management).

Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 11:50 AM

Grandson of Liberty said:

I love it when Economics 101 and Constitutional Principles 101 are taught together in the same venue - they are mutually inclusive. Great class, Mark!

Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 11:52 AM

Steve B said:

I have been a subscriber to the Patriot Post for a few years now and can say that I definitely do NOT support the current administration in our country. I am also a Federal worker with the DOD and have proudly been for the last 10 years. Everyday I read how much Federal workers are paid over the private sector and I have to laugh. This is not something that you can just make a blanket statement about. There are Federal jobs that people are overpaid in, and something needs to be done about that, but not all Federal jobs. I chose to look for a job in the DOD right after 911 because I felt a calling to support my country. I served in the Air Force, got out and worked in the private sector for a few years, and then got hired as a civil servent with the Air Force. I, along with probably 95% of my fellow co-workers in the DOD, feel the same. In my job, I could be making much more in the private sector, but instead chose to support our military and make a little less. Do I feel like I am in a little more secure job? Sure, but doesn't everyone with a family hope for that? There are different pay levels in the federal govt (ie Wage Grade, General Schedule, etc). WG's are considered blue collar and GS's white collar. Every job in the federal govt is looked at and rated differently for pay. Myself and others in my particular job definitely think we should make more but we don't. Also, not all of the federal govt is run and managed by such a strong union (ie USPS). I am thankful that our union (that we are represented by automatically but it is a personal choice to pay into, I choose NO!) isn't strong where I work because we have seen how it can backfire and cause bases to close. I just wanted to express my opinion and let people know that it isn't as easy as saying get rid of federal workers or cut their pay. Some of us struggle in the federal workforce also but our Patriot pride makes up for it. Go Air Force!

Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 12:02 PM

ScreenPlay said:

Yes, as stated the present level of one's government job, THAT salary is frozen but an employee can still move into another GS level etc. to receive more money..So big deal."After gaining work experience, people often qualify for higher GS levels. 1 year of experience related to the job could raise your grade by one GS level in most clerical and technician positions. In administrative, professional, and scientific positions, GS level increases in increments of two until you reach a GS-12. After that, GS level increases one level at a time. Each additional year of experience at a higher level of responsibility, your GS level could continue to increase until it reaches the maximum for your occupation."If you change job title changes say police to border patrol status or criminal investigator..so many ways, so many levels.Govt. workers can also get "premium" pay, granted "when the employee must work overtime, on holidays, on weekends, at night, or under hazardous conditions".Benefits and union membership with all the perks goes along with it. What, they worry?http://www.bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs041.htmhttp://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cic_text/employ/govtjob/fedjob.htmI don't know if Obama thinks the American public is just plain stupid or he just has no clue! Or is it just:"Obama's wage-freeze charade".

Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 12:05 PM

TheTruthHurts said:

Where is the liberal's rebuttal? What's that? The sound of a pin dropping.

Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 12:09 PM

Alex Garrison said:

Until the house and senate have LIMITED terms like "Bozo" little if anything will change. Information provided by the government regarding employment, taxes or the economy is so full of it...bio fuel could be in trouble.A page of history could be taken from Denmark and who comes "in country." Instead of giving the rest of the farmstead away..." why not tell everyone the truth and let's suffer the pain now so my grandchildren can be as proud as I once was...

Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 12:24 PM

Taxman said:

In Soviet Russia after the fall, they had onerous tax rates and the economy was in shambles. The Russian populace were employing their version of Victory Gardens by growing and selling their own produce and foods in their local farmer's market. The economy was almost totally underground; you could find anything and everyting cheaper in their huge black market. All of this only exacerbated the deficit (tax-revenue) problem!! Then, in a desparate move, Russian politicos changed to a flat tax. Wow, businesses flourished. Tax revenues went through the roof! If only Obama would look to his idols and review the Communist's 'algebraic-tax-proof' in Russia!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 12:31 PM

Robert Hardman said:

I wish that you all had information on exactly what the terrorists have tried, and are planning on trying. The hard workers at TSA are trying to keep all people safe as they travel about. They do this by providing very thorough screening measures. They also treat evryone equally and with dignity. These workers are also underpaid, and our tyrannical president has frozen their pay for 2 to 3 years. They should be thanked for performing their job and their service to this country.Regards,Robert

Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Mike McGinn said:

Here's a law I'd like to see enacted.Come October 1st, if there were no federal budget signed by the President, then all pay and benefits for members of congress and their staffs and members of the executive and their staffs would be terminated and remain so until a signed budget was in place.The salaries for the above noted personnel would be reduced by 5% for each week beyone October 1st that the budget remained unsigned.We are now nine weeks (17%) into fiscal year 2011, still with no approved budget in place. The officers of a company in the private sector would have been fired long ago for a performance like that.

Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 12:51 PM

Tim Conrad said:

I have a small quibble with the chart showing a budget surplus in the late 90's. Didn't happen. According to the Treasury Dept's web site, the total U.S. debt went up every year in the 90's. And 80's, 70's, 60's as well. Only by Enron style accounting did the so-called surplus exist.

Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 12:55 PM

Jim Ellis said:

Mr. Alexander your articles are usually of the highest caliber, but this time you slipped. In your article “Who Got Stimulated” you said,” (Oh, and Mr. Speaker-to-be, sell Pelosi's opulent Boeing 757, and refund the treasury.)” The Speakers’ opulent transportation, as you have pointed out in the past, is an Air Force Asset. The Air Force was tasked to provide the Speaker of the House more secure transportation than Public Air transport offered. She upped her requirements for a larger jet, hence the 757, because her entourage couldn’t travel with her in the smaller jet provided. Thank you for an inspiring article minus that one small point.

Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 12:57 PM

Mike McGinn said:

@ Robert Hardman re: TSASince 9/11 I have yet to read the headline story about the TSA agent at the airport who caught a terrorist and averted disaster. Just show me one story...PLEASE!I have read hundreds of stories about the TSA agents confiscating fingernail clippers and bottles of hand lotion...and now feeling up (in a dignified way of course) old nuns and young children.Please, tell me again how TSA agents are performing a service to this country?

Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 12:59 PM

Dick O’Blenis said:

Greetings! You said John Kennedy was the ‘father of the modern Democrat party’, I disagree. It’s not been the same since LBJ took over! In fact, it has gone more liberal with each year!

Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 1:07 PM

RedBaker in Florida said:

The spending/borrowing prior to Obama was not as rosy as the graph shows. The increase in national debt is a lot more than the "deficit" figures the lamestream media reports. What is more important is the year-to-year increase in the national debt. FY Increased debt2010 1,651,794,027,3802009 1,885,104,106,5992008 1,017,071,524,6502007 500,679,473,0472006 574,264,237,4922005 553,656,965,3932004 595,821,633,5872003 554,995,097,1462002 420,772,553,3972001 133,285,202,313Confirm it youself from the Treasury websitehttp://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt_histo5.htm

Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 1:08 PM