Federal Times Blogs

Lieberman, Collins: Freeze pay for third year

Bookmark and Share

Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, today called for extending federal employees’ pay freeze — currently scheduled to last two years — into a third year.

In a letter to the so-called super committee tasked with reducing the deficit, Lieberman and Collins said “federal employees, including members of Congress and our staffs, must sacrifice as part of an urgent need to curtail the cost of the federal government and reduce the national debt.”

As a strong supporter of our federal workforce, we say this with regret, because we are asking many dedicated, hard-working and patriotic public servants to pay a price for fiscal and economic conditions for which they are not responsible. But people across the country are struggling, most especially those who are suffering from historic levels of unemployment, and all Americans, including those of us in the public sector, must help get our country out of the hole we are in.

A third year in which pay scales are frozen would save $32 billion, they said. They did not propose halting step increases, but they did say the freeze should be extended to legislative branch employees.

They also endorsed President Obama’s plan to phase in a 1.2 percent increase to the amount federal employees contribute to their pension plans. But they said the proposal should also cover legislative and judicial branch employees, not just executive branch employees. And they said the super committee should consider repealing a 2009 change allowing Federal Employees Retirement System employees to count their unused sick leave towards their retirement, which will cost an estimated $561 million over 10 years.

Collins and Lieberman said moving to a high-5 system for calculating pensions makes sense, but it should be structured to limit the effect on feds who are already near retirement. If that isn’t done, it could result in a wave of early retirements as feds try to get out before the high-5 takes effect.

From the fed perspective, however, their approach looks positively mild in comparison with the package of recommendations offered–also today–by Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Among them: Go to the five-5; extend the pay freeze through 2015 and eliminate step increases;  increase employee contribution rates both for participants in the Federal Employees Retirement System and the Civil Service Retirement System; eliminate FERS for new hires and limit the FERS minimum supplement to employees subject to mandatory retirement. Oh yes, and reduce the federal work force by 10 percent by hiring only one new worker for every three who leave.

Total 10-year savings would be a minimum of $375 billion, the committee’s chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said in a letter.


Tags: , , ,


  1. Monte Walker Says:
    October 14th, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Absolutely ridiculous that we have to pay the price for the way Congress has managed our country’s debt. Congress should work for nothing – see how they feel!

  2. Lcb Says:
    October 14th, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    All I have to say is we can’t catch a break.

  3. Carolyn Killian Says:
    October 14th, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Dear Senator Joe Lieberman,
    DO you realize these federal employees you are hurting and are taking $ from families makes less than a 3 digit salary. Not all federal employees make the high salary congress makes. We do not get the high awards $, bonuses, or the privilege to vote our selves a raise. Want to save federal good, start with cutting congress pay, do away with steps, bonuses, raises, kudos, expense accounts, and all your other benefits. At our facility we have a lots chiefs. Chief of the Service, Assistant Chief, Chief of each section, Assistants Chiefs, Program analyst, Supervisor, and leads. Why do we not get rid of some of GS-11-18 positions. That’s where the money is in all the filters. I’ll just bet congress is really fluid with mangers, chiefs, assistant chiefs, and then add another layer of chiefs, assistant chief, managers, and etc. to work under them. Crazy for managers with high dollar positions to be tripping over each other while GS-4 – GS-9 are trying to meet all the mandates passes on them. I think it is time to get rid of all the staff members in congress and replace you folks with people who understand congress works for the tax payer. You folks don’t understand that including the President.

  4. Potomac Oracle Says:
    October 15th, 2011 at 10:02 am

    These dispicable, hypocrites who have admitted that unfunded wars, tax cuts, medical programs, and Wall St fraud exploded the deficit. But are now mouthing the lie that deficits must be paired back by cutting incomes and benefits of public sector employees. Since most in Congress are millionaires their burden would be miniscule.

    These craven, bought and paid for “politicians” care not about the majority of government workers who exist at the lower end of the payscale. Moreover, they ignore the impact of real inflation on wages and income.

    From one side of their collective mouths the preach austerity and sacrafice by all, from the other side of their collective mouths, they bloviate about the benefits of tax and program cuts while falling silent about the collateral damage which attends their version of austerity and necessary program cuts.

    What President Obama needs to do is declare a national Emergency, issue an Executive Order instructing the Treasury Secretary to distribute $2.5 trillion in new Silver Certificates, to each of the 54,000 plus political jurisdictions in America and its territories. Their 2012 pre-austerity budget requests would be the cap on allocations from Treasury.

    This interest free source of funding the Commons, has precedent as monetary policy. See E.O. 11110: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_11110

  5. Shoop Says:
    October 16th, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    And yet Congress or their staff have not taken any cuts in salary and benefits. They have actually gotten more money.

  6. Jennifer Says:
    October 17th, 2011 at 8:08 am

    I would like to say I’m surprised…but I’m not! Federal employees have been the “whipping boy” for all the fiscal ills of this country and it starts in Congress. It is federal employees that make this country run from one day to the next. We don’t fund wars, give money away to support other countries, vote ourselves raises or run a re-election campaign while still claiming to do our job. We are the secretaries, clerks, engineers, contract specialists, WG workers that keep America up and running!
    When all is said and done…I’d like to think that we might get the respect we’re due, but it will be long overdue!

  7. Robert Says:
    October 17th, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Is there something qwrong with this comment?

    “In a letter to the so-called super committee tasked with reducing the deficit, Lieberman and Collins said “federal employees, including members of Congress and our staffs, must sacrifice as part of an urgent need to curtail the cost of the federal government and reduce the national debt.”

    Sure there is! first issue to come to mind is that we know they wont include memebrs of Congress or their staffs.

    Second, what incentive is there to continue to perform to the standards when you continue to freeze employees pay? Then turn around and recommend retirement benefits be based on high 5 years VS 3 years. You have already forced Federal employees to save you money by freezing their pay – it isnt going to change their high 3 average much anyhow – couple dollars at most!!

    Why is that contractor, sitting across from federal employees, making more than the FED for doing the same work.

    Lets get realistic here. STOP: Printing money that we cant back up with a standard. STOP: Making payments to other countries because of their economic issues. STOP: Paying for social programs that usually go to people that dont need them vice the intended receivers. STOP: Extending unemployment benefits – you only make people “NOT” want to work or look for a job. Stop contracting out jobs that are inherently governmental – you end up paying more and losing loyalty. MOST OF ALL – STOP MAKING FEDERAL EMPLOYEES YOUR SCAPEGOATS TO GET YOU OUT OF THE FINANCIAL MESS THAT YOU HAVE CREATED.

    START providing REPRESENTATION without having to push more and more TAXATION.

  8. Sahib Says:
    October 17th, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Perhaps Lieberman and others in Congress are forgetting that Feds vote too?

  9. Jim Says:
    October 18th, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Did you see the savings from cutting our fed pay? 375 billion over 10 years. While this is admittedly alot of money; compared to the Defense department, it is a drop in the bucket. I would love to see what we pay in health care, retirement, protection, etc… for retired congressmen. These dirtbags serve 5 years and get the whole shebang. 1 ship cut from the Navy budget, 4 planes from the USAF budget, 10 tanks from the Army… any of these things could save what they are looking to cut. There is at least a payback from fed wages. We pay income tax, sales tax, local tax, etc… thereby helping our nation. Vote ‘em out says Sahib? Aint gonna work. I say term limit them out. But thats another discussion.

  10. Fedline » Lieberman: Get ready for extended pay freeze Says:
    December 13th, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    [...] a strong probability. You never know until it happens.” In October, Lieberman proposed freezing pay for a third year to help cut the [...]