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   EDITORIAL: Sorry, You Fed Employees


Sorry, You Fed Employees

ON THE FRIDAY AFTER THANKSGIVING, with Congress in recess, the White House sent a letter to congressional leaders saying that civilian federal employees living in high cost-of-living areas who were due for substantial wage increases to bring them more in line with prevailing wages would not be receiving those raises after all. George W. Bush explained, “Such cost increases would threaten our efforts against terrorism or force deep cuts in discretionary spending or federal employment to stay within budget.”

There’s that word again: “TERRORISM.” It’s becoming a blanket excuse for doing any old thing George W. Bush wants to do as he goes about dismantling our government.

Well, we feel some terror, too—the terror of the middle class that doesn’t see raises coming and wonders if there’s even going to be a job this time next year. The terror that too few good new jobs are being created for a broad sector of our population. The terror of going without health insurance because our government will not act on this problem. The terror that our food supply is tainted and there’s not enough money in the government’s budget to pay for qualified inspectors. The terror that rank-and-file federal employees, whose job security makes them relatively immune to political games and therefore less likely to cut corners, might be replaced by “contract employees” whose allegiance to public service would be secondary to making sure their bosses make a handsome profit at the public’s expense.

The federal employees will be receiving their anticipated across-the-board 3.1 percent pay raise. But our bet is this increase (actually only 1 percent, due to the 2.1 percent inflation rate) will be more than paid for by the “savings” that will be effectuated by federal employee layoffs in the Homeland Security Department.

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This story was published on December 4, 2002.
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