President Joe Biden’s $7 trillion tax-and-spending plan would boost pay for federal bureaucrats by 5.2%, their highest raise in decades and more than private sector employees have gotten.
The proposed 5.2% hike for government workers contrasts with private sector employees, who earned an average pay raise of 4.4% from February 2022 through February 2023, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“This is one of many examples in Biden’s budget where he prioritizes the woke and bloated bureaucracy over hardworking families,” House Budget Chairman Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, told The Daily Signal in a written statement.
“Instead of more taxes, spending, and weaponized bureaucracy, he should be laser focused on addressing his self-inflicted inflation crisis and growing the economy so all Americans can prosper again,” Arrington said.
If Congress approves it, this would be the largest increase in pay for federal bureaucrats since 1980 under President Jimmy Carter, when their raise was a whopping 9.1%.
As now, that was a time of high inflation when the president was looking at getting reelected.
The disparity in pay raises between federal government workers and private sector workers is even worse since real wages, adjusted for rising inflation, have decreased for private sector workers by 1.3% from February 2022 to February 2023.
At the same time, a decline in real average hourly earnings combined with a decrease of 0.6% in the average workweek resulted in a 1.9% decrease in real average weekly earnings, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Most presidential budget proposals don’t pass, but present a base for negotiations with Congress, said Mike Palicz, director of tax policy at the conservative Americans for Tax Reform.
“The budget is a campaign document and federal government workers are a key constituency of the Democratic Party,” Palicz told The Daily Signal in a phone interview.
About 89% of the $78.9 million in federal campaign contributions by government unions in 2022 went to Democratic candidates, according to Open Secrets, which tracks money in politics.
Of that total, the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest union of federal employees, gave $1.8 million to federal candidates, and 95.4% of it went to Democrats. The American Postal Workers Union made $1 million in federal campaign contributions, 88.8% of it to Democrats.
The National Active & Retired Federal Employees Association contributed $929,500 to federal campaigns in 2022, of which 87.3% went to Democrats. The National Treasury Employees Union—which represents IRS agents, among other Treasury Department employees—contributed $642,870, of which 96.9% went to Democrats.
Much of Biden’s proposed pay raises would go to the roughly 87,000 new IRS agents that could be added to the government payroll as a result of the $470 billion spending bill, dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act, that Congress passed last fall, Palicz said.
“People are suffering in America,” he said. “So why is the president focused on raising wages for federal employees? Most Americans are not happy with how the federal government is performing right now. So why would they need a raise?”
However, the American Federation of Government Employees contends that Biden’s proposal to raise workers’ pay doesn’t go far enough.
“Not only would this be the largest increase since 1980, it would also be a significant step in the right direction for efforts to recruit and retain the next generation of federal workers,” AFGE President Everett Kelley said in a public statement. “While we applaud the president’s proposal, it is not enough.”
Kelley argued that private sector employees get wages that are 23% higher than federal employees on average. He said Biden should support the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act, or FAIR Act, which would give federal employees a 8.7% pay increase. Democrats in the House and Senate back the bill.
“For more than a decade, this pay gap has caused high turnover and difficulty [in] filling positions at some of our most important federal agencies. Recent inflation has only made that problem worse,” Kelley said. “Better pay for federal employees will help attract more workers to a career in public service, making government services more efficient for all Americans.”
The White House did not respond to The Daily Signal’s inquiries for this report.
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