WASHINGTON -- The GOP House budget proposal released by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) Tuesday included a standard Republican talking point for long-term deficit reduction: Slim down the federal workforce and pare back workers' salaries.
But in making the case for a smaller, lesser-paid workforce, the proposal from the House Budget Committee chairman may mislead readers when it comes to recent federal pay. "Immune from the effects of the recession," the budget reads, "federal employees have received regular salary bumps regardless of productivity or economic realities."
Federal employee pay rates have been frozen for more than two years, part of a shared sacrifice toward budget control announced by President Obama in 2010 and backed by Congress. Individual workers have still received pay increases due to performance or promotions, as the Washington Post notes, but workers have not been receiving their regular cost-of-living increase each year.
A Ryan spokesman said the statement in the budget addressed the fact that workers are still eligible for "step and grade increases" as part of the federal workforce, even though they aren't receiving their traditional cost-of-living bumps.
But without those automatic annual raises, many federal workers haven't seen a pay hike at all, said J. David Cox, Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, a federal employee union. "There's been no across-the-board raises for three years, no cost of living adjustment," Cox said. "Everyone has to have a raise occasionally."
House Republicans passed a bill last month that would extend the pay rate freeze even further. Obama issued an executive order last year that at the end of March would lift the freeze and give federal workers their first cost-of-living increase -- a modest 0.5 percent -- since 2010. The GOP bill would nullify that raise, a move the Democratic-led Senate is expected to take up soon.
Correction: The original post did not clarify the difference between annual cost-of-living increases and the step and grade increases that workers are still eligible for.