Trump Cancels Small Pay Increase For Federal Workers Next Year…And Guess What The Exact Amount Is He Says Government Will Save?
Here’s the pertinent language in a letter sent by the President to the Speaker of the House:
“Specifically, I have determined that for 2019, both across‑the‑board pay increases and locality pay increases will be set at zero. These alternative pay plan decisions will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well‑qualified Federal workforce….We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases.”
Federal workers would lose out on a 2.1% across the board pay increase. They’d also get shafted on planned increases in what’s called “locality pay”, which compensates for different costs of living in different areas of the country. (Except for military personnel: the President’s not messing with their planned 2.6% increase.) And how much does the President say that’ll save? You may have already guessed: $25-billion dollars. Exactly the price tag for his wall.
But let’s say that’s sheer coincidence and set it aside. It’s still a pretty curious move by the President for a couple of reasons:
First of all, he’s not really in charge of budgeting. Anything having to do with raising or spending federal money is part of Congress’s job description, not the President’s. Of course the President can request things, and has to sign off on whatever Congress passes (but in this case, he’s already done that). So how does he think he’s going to get away with what he’s proposing?
Because he’s actually invoking “emergency” powers, that’s how. Here’s another excerpt from the letter:
“Title 5, United States Code, authorizes me to implement alternative plans for pay adjustments for civilian Federal employees covered by the General Schedule and certain other pay systems if, because of ‘national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare'”….
This strategy is very similar to the way Trump’s run roughshod over Congress in imposing tariffs and starting trade wars, always declaring it’s in the interest of “national security”, which allows him to do so.
But what “national emergency” are we talking about? What “serious economic conditions”? The President himself keeps telling us the economy is booming like never before and there’s pretty close to full employment.
Except, as we’ve mentioned before, because of Trump and Republicans’ $1.5-trillion dollar tax giveaway mostly to corporations, receipts from corporate taxes are now running below Recession levels. In fact, they’re close to a 75-year low as a percentage of the overall economy, according to the New York Times. (That part of the story, in our opinion, has been vastly under covered, so hopefully this may shine some light on it now.) In other words, Trump’s putting a small fraction of his tax breaks for the rich on the shoulders of civil servants.
And that also fits in with the President’s unceasing efforts to degrade civil service while glorifying corporate America and the super-rich.
Enjoy your Labor Day…