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Moran Blasts Federal Pay Freeze

by ARLnow.com November 30, 2010 at 8:54 am 2,622 63 Comments

Presiding over a congressional district with one of the highest concentrations of federal workers in the country, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) has consistently been an unabashed supporter of federal employees and federal spending.

It’s little surprise then that Moran is criticizing President Obama’s decision to freeze the salaries of two million federal employees for the next two years.

Moran released the following statement yesterday evening.

This move will only embolden the opponents of civil service, those who got elected claiming the federal government is broken and will now set about trying to break it.

Unilaterally freezing pay for civil servants separate from a comprehensive, deficit reduction package unfairly asks federal employees to carry a burden that should be shared by all. This freeze strikes at the heart of pay parity, penalizing civilian federal employees in the Defense Department, CIA and other agencies who work side-by-side with our active duty service men and women overseas.

A two year freeze also threatens to exacerbate the brain drain from our federal agencies as the baby boomers reach retirement. It flies in the face of the basic fact that federal employees, particularly those in the management sector, are already underpaid when compared to their private sector counterparts.

  • KalashniKEV

    Ha. Too bad Federal employees already earn between 30 percent and 40 percent more than equivalently skilled private-sector workers… and their pay increases 3% annually while the average for everyone else is .8%.

    “Clemmens, who works for the Social Security Administration, said she voted for Obama but won’t again. “I can’t wait until I retire,” the life-long government worker added.”

    Isn’t that what they all repeat over and over as soon as they get picked up?

    All these people who thought Obama was going to pay their mortgage and put gas in their car will eventually turn on him in the end.

    • BoredHouseWife

      Jealous? They got a sweet job and you are stuck as an indentured servant? So instead of punishing the bankers, you direct your anger towards your neighbor? Whatever is easy, I suppose.

  • Jaun

    + juan

  • YTK

    And yet, Congress will get its pay raise. The fat cat CEO’s presiding over bailed out corporations will get THEIR holiday bonus.

    • Arlington, Northside

      Congress will not get their pay raises, but the CEO’s will….

      • Lou

        Congress sets its own pay, so it will be entirely up to the new leadership.

        As for Moran’s bloviating, this is just one proposed step in a long discussion about comprehensive deficit control, and he knows it. So he needs to just wait and listen while the adults are talking. Elections have consequences, and the federal pay freeze was actually a Republican idea, before Obama took it. Maybe that’s got Moran all confused and upset.

        • Burger

          I think Moran is an idiot but he’s got a point. Obama is asking the federal civilian workers to take a pay freeze but not asking anyone else to make a sacrifice to pay down the deficit – say reduce the mortgage interest deduction.

          If the need is great enough to make adjustments on revenue and spending side then everyone should be forced to take a haircut. No private industery workers are being forced to make any sacrifices to pay down the debt at this point.

          • Lou

            Well, it’s just a symbolic step at this point, a tiny pittance against the monstrous debt. If this is the type of handwringing and bellyaching we can expect at every step of the process, then they are truly not interested in serious reform, and we are doomed.

          • Burger

            Lou let me know when that symbolic amount shows back up as real money in my wife’s pay check. As I said, if we are going to make sacrfices make everyone take a hair cut.

            So you ignored the entire point of my post.

          • Lou

            Burger, I did not necessarily ignore your post, but it’s an incomplete thought at this point. This is just the beginning of a long discussion about how to reduce the deficit, and most likely everyone and every sector will somehow be impacted (if the will to really do something exists). So it’s premature, in my mind, to start complaining that only the civil servants are being targeted.

  • Brett

    I’m hoping the freeze in government pay deters people from getting jobs in the public sector, leading to a slow decline in the size of some departments. I’m not saying all government employees are lazy, stupid and overpaid. Just the ones I have met and have to deal with on a daily basis at my job as a government contractor.

    • Kyle

      I’m a government contractor too – and I can say the same exact thing about government contractors (regarding lazy, stupid, and overpaid).

      It’s unfortunate, because there’s no real value in achieving within the government sector.

      However, the pay freeze WILL negatively effect certain aspects of the government in the near future – what about areas such as DOJ or SEC lawyers? Will the incentive for law grads to work for the government still be there if there is not equivalent pay to the civilian sector? If not, how can the government expect to do things like thoroughly investigate and prosecute financial matters (i.e. the causes of the current recession regarding little to no oversight)?

      • NPGMBR

        I’m a Federal Employee and former Contractor and before that a Marine so I’ve seen every side. It is a complete and total lie that Federal Employees are lazy know-nothing bums and the same is true for contractors. There are many good and some bad people in every industry.

        For many years now the word in the news was that private sector workers earned more than feds. So whats chagned? The economy is whats changed. Its not that all those private sector workers lost money, its that a lot of them lost their jobs but that does not mean that they did the same work as their federal counterparts. I know with absolute certainty that a Budget Analyst in the private sector does not do the same things to I do.

        Its all complete and total BS to make the public believe the gov is doing something when they really are not. I don’t have a problem with the pay freeze but the public should stop thinking that because they are losing jobs that it makes them better than feds.

        I too could have been a private sector worker earning more than I do now, but I chose security over the dollars that some of my friends did and some of those friends are now out of work.

        • V Dizzle

          Agreed, I could easily find a private sector job that pays 40-80% more than my federal job, but I believe in what I do, value the job security, and have an aversion to dealing with profits and stock prices. Maybe it’s an anomaly, but I work with some of the best and brightest, most of which had decades in the private sector beforehand. Yes I’ve seen plenty of the less motivated in my time around the government, but I saw that in the private industry as well. To add insult to injury for our particular case, 0% of our salaries and benefits come from the treasury, so my donation to the greater good will reduce the deficit by 0%.

        • Arlington, Northside

          Semper Fi Brother! I will add private sector work that had zero to due with the government other than the taxes taken out of the paycheck and say you are right on the money across the board.

    • BoredHouseWife

      That is because you are a contractor. They don’t listen to anyone but fellow federal employees.

  • Arlington, Northside

    The FIRST thing I have agreed with Moran on in a long long time.

  • KalashniKEV

    “I’m not saying all government employees are lazy, stupid and overpaid. Just the ones I have met”

    How many times in a month do we all say this? I should have it printed on T-shirts and sell them at the Farmer’s Market.

    If OPM really were truly interested in creating the “High Performance Government” they speak of, they would:
    1) Abolish probationary periods and give leaders the authority to fire non-performers/ people who show up with the wrong (or no) skills.
    2) Get rid of the General Schedule and implement true pay-for-performance within bands (a better thought out NSPS)
    3) Contract out everything that isn’t inherently governmental. Let the market forces regulate wages and benefits.

  • NorthAdams

    pretty predictable pandering by Moran.

  • Wayne Kubicki

    Cong. Moran was one of only 15 House members who voted in favor of raising his own pay this past April – so at least he’s being consistent .

  • BrownFlipFlops

    Most private sector workers have taken 5-10% pay cuts, and have received no raises for the last 5 or 6 years. Aggressive cost-cutting and off-shoring has cost many their jobs. From where I sit, the public sector looks relatively stable and well-remunerated. There’s not much risk that there will be a brain drain, as most large corporations are not hiring. I mean, the normal poaching of quality Federal employees by Beltway Bandits will continue, but the differences in pay there have always been big enough that the phenomenon is not sensitive to small raises and pay freezes.

    I know Moran is just pandering to his constituents, but to say the private sector is some land of milk and honey does not reflect the current reality.

    • Arlington, Northside

      It is stable work, but it makes up for the astronomical pay increase in the private sector during boom times. Did not hear anyone yelling for double digit pay raises for government workers in 1998 or 2005. If you run out the good workers with this pay freeze or the proposed 10% slash in the work force, we are going to have a headless bureaucracy in a few years when time turn back to a boom.

    • Arlington, Northside

      And of course most of the private sector reality is not milk and honey, but neither was it in 1994, but two years later life was awesome for the private sector in terms of salery and stock options.

      • BrownFlipFlops

        Fair enough, but the changes that have taken place in the last few years look more structural than cyclical. It would be great if we cycled back into a period of prosperity. I’m just trying to make the point that the private sector has been bashed in the mouth during the last few years, and has been laboring under a de facto pay freeze for a long time. It’s possible a Federal pay freeze might coincide with a giant economic growth spurt, making it hard for the government to retain talent, but it doesn’t look very likely, in the next two years.

        • Arlington, Northside

          It did not look too good in the early 1990’s either. Things will turn around, might take a little while longer than last time, but it will be fast when it does. For better or worse, these things are ALWAYS cyclical. Hopefully I will be hitting the time for government retirement at the time of the next up swing, but my luck it will be at the begining of the next bust…

  • Katie

    Obama didn’t have a choice here–it’s a drop in the bucket (we spend those “savings” every two days in Afghanistan and Iraq) but it’s a preemptive move against the know-nothing tea baggers when they start shouting about cutting the Federal workforce by 10%.

    The problem I see is that the Feds are trying to attract the sort of workers that can work in the private sector and get paid according to their achievements–and this will be a huge deterrent. We’ve all heard that a huge percentage of the workforce is due to retire within the next 10 years or so. I know I’d be POd if I had just been hired by the Feds.

    • Burger

      But it is bad negotiating and bad politics. He is already putting in a floor for further cuts. What should have been done was let the GOP negotiate against itself, not the other way around.

      Now, he appears weak and the other side will ask for more. this is coming from someone that didn’t vote for Obama.

  • Katie

    “Most private sector workers have taken 5-10% pay cuts, and have received no raises for the last 5 or 6 years.”

    Nahhhh…where did you get that?

    • Frenchy B

      Yeah, I’m not buying that either.

      • BrownFlipFlops

        Here’s the first article that pops up with a Google search:


        Microsoft, Cisco, HP, and Dell. Those are pretty significant chunks of the economy. HP laid off 26,400 employees worldwide from 2005 to 2009.

        Too much tech sector for you? Here’s a Bureau of Labor Statistics report for layoffs in September 2010. “Employers took 1,486 mass layoff actions in September that resulted in the separation of 133,379 workers…” Manufacturing, not tech, led the numbers:


        The pay cuts, layoffs, hiring freezes, and lack of raises are real.

        • Frenchy B

          I agree that things are bad, but that still doesn’t mean “most” people have had their pay cut.

          • BrownFlipFlops

            Fair enough. I’ll withdraw, “most,” and replace it with, “a huge proportion of.” Permanent pay cuts, wage freezes, hiring freezes, bonus eliminations, “temporary” 15% reductions, and other cost reduction games are happening in the majority of private sector employers these days, though.

  • SB

    @Brett – more likely this will just encourage the good federal employees who can get jobs in the private sector to get out while they can, leaving the lazy and overpaid.

    I agree with Moran’s comment that this is an unfair burden on civil servants while no other debt containing measures are being taken.

  • Really?

    Umm, there is a reason why federal goverment employees make “less than private sector workers”: JOB SECURITY and THE INSANE PENSION / RETIREMENT PROGRAMS.

    Not sure if the federal goverment folks know, but us working class people need to actually save for retirement….I know, this is crazy talk to many federal folks (like the joker from the post yesterday who had a federal law job and a SIDE job as a film maker…i assumed that post was simply a joke) – but to match the insane retirement benefits that the federal folks get we would need to basically put away like 30 to 40 percent of our (aftertax) income to match what the federal goverment workers get.

    Next time the federal goverment workers want to ponder how much they are underpaid (note: perhaps during the huge amount of holidays and vaction time?) they should remember that the rest of us basically have no job security or retirement security.

    I am not negative toward federal workers, but some simple math needs to be done here. Is a freeze of salaries at an all time high really that difficult for folks with basically guaranteed jobs that hard to swallow? Isn’t unemployment running at 10%?

    • Mark

      There is no “insane pension” or benefits anymore. It’s a myth from a time long, long ago. In fact there is no pension. The government matches up to 5% of what the employee puts in towards retirement. Most private sector companies match or exceed that.

      • BrownFlipFlops

        Most private sector employers I know of have suspended their 401K match, and have made it discretionary on a quarter-to-quarter basis.

    • V Dizzle

      There IS a retirement plan that we PAY into, and is offset somewhat by SS. Remember, much of the private sector used to have retirement plans as well. Feds are not far behind you in taking away this benefit (which is less of a benefit generally under FERS as compared to CSRS). I think your figures are a bit inflated and not based on real numbers as FERS retirement is based more on a risk based 401K than on a pension. Yes we get a bunch of vacation days, but that all depends on what you’re comparing to. I’d have much better benefits (and had them) and about the same time off in the private sector. I’d accept that we’re compensated better than average in some areas, and worse in others.

      • BrownFlipFlops

        This sounds pretty reasonable. There’s a shift away from defined benefit plans in both the public and private sectors. I think both sides can look wistfully back at the days when giant pensions were available to all. I agree that public and private workers are much more responsible for their own retirements than they used to be.

  • Mark

    50% of the Federal Workforce will be eligible to retire within the next 5 years. How does congress/president/american people expect to retain and hire the best and brightest for the government?

    • Really?

      Mark: I think that you need to do some additional research on the federal goverment retirement system. As you apparently do not know, the change in federal retirement programs which took place in 1987 included a “defined benefit” (ie an annunity for life upon retirement, aka a pension) portion of retirement benefits…in addition to a “defined contribution” (aka 401k type program) benefit. The vast majority of us normal people don’t get a “defined benefit” we have access to a “defined contribution” type (401k) system. That’s the insane benefit that us normal folks don’t get. This is why federal jobs appear to be “less lucrative” than private sector jobs…of course, base pay may not be the best measure of total compensation.

      • Arlington, Northside

        The defined benefit portion was severely cut with the introduction to FERS and the TSP ie. “defined contribution” (aka 401k type program). You know some Feds will get lucky with there plans and retire at the perfect time, others will retire at an inopportune time. Same thing will go for private sector folks, some graduated school and entered the work force during a boom and had huge bonuses thrown at them the day they showed up and will luck out and retire with their 401K’s and Roth IRA’s during a boom time while others entered the work force during a recession and will retire into a bust or have to continue working for longer than is healthy for them or their employer. There are still a good share of private sector corporations that continue to provided defined benefit pensions, and just like the government pension is not as generous as it once was, there are not as many of those companies with true pension plans as there once were either.

        This whole thing about going after the government workers as lazy or incompetent is just a bunch of populist grand standing. The system is bloated, that is for sure, but those in the system are generally hard workers who stick around to serve their country through thick and thin and are willing to take the modest compensation during the booms for the security during the busts. What needs to be done is to insure we keep and attract the good workers for the truly need positions, while eliminating some of those other positions as people retire in the next few years. Attrition is a lot better solution here than cutting pay or lay offs.

        • V Dizzle


    • Tired of Democrats Whining

      They can start by actually hiring good people and stop using automated systems to ‘screen’ applicants. Their hiring system isn’t setup for attracting the best people. Doesn’t matter when people will retire, the current HR system is just horrible.

      • Katie

        Exactly. That’s why Obama issued an executive order to get rid of those stupid KSAs. The cumbersome application system isn’t going away overnight, but it will go away. A lot of agencies now accept applications the normal way.

        • NPGMBR

          KSAs are still a part of the process, just not as envasive. While KSAs are a hendrance they are valuable in demonstrating if an applicant has the knowledge to perform the tasks associated with the position.

      • Burger

        With the use of resumes submitted via the internet every business uses automated filters to winnow job applicants.

  • Runaway Train

    Moran’s statement whether you agree with the federal pay freeze or not. It should have been announced with a more comprehensive plan to reduce the federal deficit (if that is what their after). An al carte approach unfairly targets federal workers for a burden that should be shared.

    It could be worse: Maryland state employees had to take as many as 10 Furlough days this year. My parents both work for the State of MD, so as a household they lost a combined 20 days of pay.

  • Tired of Democrats Whining

    When gov’t employees can be laid off, then cry about a pay freeze. Federal workers are over paid as it is, at least in DC. This is their chance to share the burden that private employees have already been shouldering.

    Will people please stop voting democratic in NOVA???

    • rcw


  • Bluemont John

    DC-area federal employees may make more than non-feds in other parts of the country–but housing prices are also much higher here. Feds in other regions make much less than people here, but their costs are also lower. We spend 40% of our household income on the mortgage–and we also have student loans to pay off.

    I was a huge Obama supporter–but no more. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you. If the GOP nominates anyone slightly more sane than Palin, I just might for for ’em.

    • rcw

      I love when people decide they are disappointed that Obama wasn’t as “XXXX” as they had hoped. So they will abandon their principles and vote for a party that is diametrically opposed to those principles. Cutting off the nose to spite the face…?

      • Westover

        Democracy is about people voting to send their message. If an official is not representing what they said they would, in the next election they risk being fired, party should not have much to do with it with that sort of failure.

  • ch

    Funny- I didn’t hear or see any such debate over the freezing of teacher pay. We had our pay frozen, our cost of living increases eliminated and our benefits reduced. If only the federal pay freeze would free up money to pay those of us who are truly underpaid.

  • Pedro

    Bravo, Mr. Moran. I’m a government attorney and I can barely afford a tiny 1br condo in Arlington…yet supposedly I’m being paid HIGHER than my private sector colleagues? It’s completely insane. First year associates START at a higher salary than I could EVER make in the government (GS-15 tops out at 155k, whereas a typical 1st year associate at a firm in DC makes $160k, with no experience). Also, the DC area continues to be a more and more expensive place to live, and yet now we’re being asked to sacrifice our cost of living adjustment for the greater good. Why don’t we go after the real money drains, like farm subsidies and aid to Israel and Egypt? Because it wouldn’t be politically possible. Same with any sort of raise in taxes. Everybody WANTS all the services that government provides, yet they refuse to acknowledge that they have to pay taxes to enjoy these services.

    Also, while I hate the notion that all federal workers are lazy. It is true my office doesn’t get work out as quickly as the public would like, but that’s because we are woefully understaffed, not because we’re not working. But of course there’s no money to hire more staff.

    • Bluemont John

      +1, Pedro.

      Yeah–Obama’s speechwriter gets paid I think something like $170/year. WTF? How about we cut HIS salary?

    • KalashniKEV

      “I’m a government attorney and I…”
      HEY! You’re not that guy running around making movies, are you? There’s so many things wrong with your post… I don’t know where to begin.

      First- do you even know your trade? Average starting salary for an ASSOCIATE attorney in DC is $108K.

      Second- Sacrafice your cost of living? The scales are frozen, but as I understand it Locality Pay may go up (or down). Correct me if I’m wrong though. The GS scales have gone UP, UP, UP for the last 10 years, all while the government has gotten fatter. The Private Sector has had to deal with the economic reality of the country we live in, and that is why you see shrinking wages and double digit unemployment. The freeze was basically a stop to the insanity of the welfare state monster Obama started feeding.

      Lastly- Not everyone WANTS “all the services that government provides.” I just need them to keep the streets paved (and plowed!), send an ambulance if I may need one, AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS BUM INVASION!


      • Bob

        (Then please petition your county board to criminalize panhandling. Until that happens, there is essentially nothing that can be done about the “bum invasion”… Between the very generous donations panhandlers in Arlington receive & the extensive services they receive in Arlington (as compared to in DC & surrounding jusrisdictions), there is no dis-incentive for many of them to move elsewhere (or make substantial effort to self-improve if possible…)

      • Jaun


  • anon

    “First year associates START at a higher salary than I could EVER make in the government (GS-15 tops out at 155k, whereas a typical 1st year associate at a firm in DC makes $160k, with no experience).”

    hahahahaha. The overwhelming majority of first year associates for big firms are NOT making 160k in D.C. these days. Maybe three years ago. 120K-125K is starting salary in D.C. big firms now. And most new lawyers in this city are not working for a big firm these days either.

    This whole thing doesn’t affect young gov lawyers too much. This doesn’t prevent GS promotions, and most new attorneys are eligible for several of these promotions within their first few years. So you will be making six figures (albeit low six figures) in no time. Better than most new attorneys at small firms in the metro area.

    • Andrew

      Not to mention you are lucky to get a job as a first year associate.

  • Box Alarm

    That is the sound of Freedom people!!!! Deal with it!!

  • The Pope of South Arlington

    “A two year freeze also threatens to exacerbate the brain drain from our federal agencies as the baby boomers reach retirement.”

    Maybe they can drain some of that brain into the Post Office!

    Isnt this the same Moran who got pinched for taking bribes in Alexandria, beat his wife and wanted to charge admission to the Museums?

    We all know America is a meritocracy and the affirmative action, nepotistic, cronyistic US “Gubbamint” hires only the best and brightest this fine nation has to offer, right? Why would anyone want to take money from those poor job-4-life cant-be fired federal employees?

  • Justme

    I am a fed and not one of the high paid ones, I know a lot are way over paid. I am not happy with the freeze but I am thankful to have my job, I will survive with out a COLA. I just hope the freeze will apply to everyone on capital hill.


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