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February xx, 2013
Dear Representative _____________________,
I am writing to tell you how deeply disappointed I am at your vote in favor of H.R. 273, which will extend the current three year pay freeze for federal employees until the end of 2013. The last general raise, of 2 percent, was paid in January 2010. There have been no pay increases in January 2011, January 2012 or January 2013. Now, Congress has denied Federal employees a pay raise through 2013, meaning the earliest employees would receive a raise, if an extension is passed, would be January 2014.
Although I realize that there was a small extension (from October through December 2013) of the pay freeze for Members of Congress, your pay was frozen from January 1st through September 30th by the fiscal cliff legislation passed at the beginning of January. Even House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrel Issa (R-CA) acknowledged that the vote was not about the pay of Members of Congress, when he issued his press release in support of H.R. 273:
“The President’s executive order would have also facilitated a pay increase for Members of Congress. The House and Senate, however, voted down the congressional pay increase earlier this year.”
In other words, the vote on H.R. 273 was not about whether Congressional lawmakers, who earn $174,000 annually should receive a pay raise. This vote was about whether the working and middle class Americans who take care of our veterans, who guard our borders, who maintain our military’s hardware, and who keep our environment and our workplaces safe and healthy should receive a belated and modest 0.5% pay increase after a freeze of more than three years.
To date, federal employees and their families are the lone discrete group of middle-income Americans who have made sacrifices to deficit reduction, suffering cuts worth more than $100 billion over ten years.
Specifically, federal employees have endured a two-year (2011 and 2012) pay freeze which saves $60 billion over ten years. Current law provides that the 2013 pay raise will be only 0.5% and even that low amount will be delayed until April, the combination of which will save at least $28 billion. Savings from the pay freeze: $88 billion.
Federal and postal employees were forced to pay 50% of the cost of the Unemployment Insurance (UI) extension passed in February 2012, which saved $15 billion over ten years. To achieve that savings, federal employees hired after 2012 must contribute 3.1% of their salaries to their pensions, compared to the previous level of 0.8%. It is important to remember that under Congressional budget rules, increases in federal employee salary contributions to retirement score as tax increases. Savings from the tax increase: $15 billion.
That brings the total sacrifice by federal employees so far to $103 billion over ten years.
For lower and middle-grade employees, the impact of H.R. 273 will be harsh:
* A GS-3 nursing assistant earning $27,322 while working in a VA hospital psychiatric ward will have gone three years without a pay raise.
* A GS-5 USDA meat and poultry inspector earning $31,825 while protecting Americans from E. Coli and other deadly diseases caused by contaminated meat will have gone three years without a pay raise.
* A GS-7 federal penitentiary correctional officer earning $38,790 while guarding ruthless gang leaders in dangerously understaffed institutions will have gone three years without a pay raise.
Enough is enough. It’s time for Congress to reduce federal spending by finally requiring service contractors to make sacrifices.
Defense contractors can charge taxpayers annually up to $763,029 for the compensation of a single employee. However, in non-DoD agencies, only the five most highly compensated executives at each contractor are held to this cap. Other contractor employees can be – and are – frequently reimbursed by taxpayers for more than $763,000. Since 1998, the compensation cap on government contracts has more than doubled. Over the past dozen years, the increase in allowable government compensation to contractors has outpaced inflation by 53%. In 2012, contractors received a 10% raise. Under the generous formula set in statute, which is based on exorbitant compensation for private sector business executives, contractors will likely receive a comparable raise in 2013.
One modestly paid federal workforce of nurses, food inspectors, and correctional officers is scheduled to receive a mere 0.5% pay increase after a two-year freeze. Another federal workforce where many employees routinely make hundreds of thousands of dollars annually received a 10% raise last year and will likely receive a comparable raise again next year. Both workforces are paid for by American taxpayers. What’s the difference? You’ve just voted to eliminate the 0.5% pay increase for the workforce made up of working and middle class federal employees, but so far Congress has done nothing about the double-digit raises being given to an exclusive group of federal contractor employees in America’s top 1% of income. It’s shameful.
I honestly don’t know how I can possibly explain your vote.