Our Accidental President, Mr. Bush after pushing through a record tax cut for the rich and building up the largest budget deficit in U.S. history, now has the audacity to transmit to Congress a plan to limit the pay increase payable to civilian federal employees. Mr. Bush proposal would affect General Schedule (GS) and certain other pay systems limiting their January 2004 raises to a total of 2 percent. And of that amount, only one and a half percent would be allocated to an across-the-board increase, and the remaining 0.5 percent to locality pay.
In accordance with Title 5, Part III, Subpart D, Ch. 53, Sub-Chapter III of the U.S. Code, these federal employees would receive a two-part pay increase in January 2004: (1) a 2.7 percent across-the-board increase in scheduled rates of basic pay, and (2) a locality pay increase based on Bureau of Labor Statistics' salary surveys of non-federal employers in each locality pay area; e.g. Chicago, New York, Los Angles, Atlanta, etc.
In Bush’s August 27 letter to the speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate, he states that he is exercising his statutory authority to limit the January 2004 GS pay increases. The president may implement an alternative pay plan if he believes the full adjustment is inappropriate due to national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare. Bush said a national emergency has existed since Sept. 11, 2001, which now includes Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The letter further states that full statutory civilian pay increases of 13 percent of payroll in 2004 would cost the Treasury about $13 billion in fiscal year 2004 and would build in later years.
Such cost increases the letter said, would threaten U.S. efforts against terrorism or force deep cuts in discretionary spending or federal employment to stay within budget. Bush stated that: "[n]either outcome is acceptable. Therefore, I have determined that a total pay increase of 2 percent would be appropriate for GS and certain other employees in January 2004."
The Accidental President lobbied for passage of his FY 2004 Budget and H.R. 1588, the National Defense Authorization Act. The president stated that the 2 percent increase should be complemented by 500 million dollars from the proposed Human Capital Performance Fund, which is contained in the Authorization Act.
"Providing higher pay for employees whose exceptional performance is critical to the achievement of the agency mission is preferable to spreading limited dollars across-the-board to all employees regardless of their individual performance or contribution," Bush said.
"I do not believe this decision will materially affect our ability to continue to attract and retain a quality federal workforce," states the Accidental President. "To the contrary, since any pay raise above the 2 percent I have proposed would likely be un-funded, agencies would have to absorb the additional cost and could have to freeze hiring in order to pay the higher rates."
Bush also stated that GS quit rates are at an all-time low of 1.7 percent per year - well below the overall average quit rate in private enterprise. "Should the need arise, the government has many
compensation tools, such as recruitment bonuses, retention allowances, and special salary rates, to maintain the high-quality workforce that serves our nation so very well."
One has to wonder, once again, at the wisdom of the tax breaks for the wealthiest among us. Where is their sacrifice for the good of the nation, nation in the words of the Accidental President, under a state of emergency?
While Bush is asking dedicated federal workers to forgo their statutorily mandated pay raises, those who can well afford to forgo one are dancing in the shadows cast by multi-billion dollar estates so large as to defy the imagination or common sense. Such audacity and arrogance can only be born on the lips of a Republican.
Full text of Bush’s letter can be found here.