Monday, December 5, 2011

Why cutting federal jobs is a bad idea

Earlier this week, Senate Republicans rolled out their proposal for financing an extension of the Social Security payroll tax cut scheduled to expire at the end of December. Disappointingly, the conservative counteroffer is to pay for this job creation measure by cutting federal employees' jobs and wages. The "pay-for" proposed by Senate Democrats -- a 3.25 percent surtax on the 1-in-500 households earning over $1 million -- for an expansion of the payroll tax cut is anathema to conservatives; Senate Republicans have already filibustered a litany of job-creation proposals that would be financed by varying millionaire surtaxes. Last night, the Senate Republicans filibustered yet another such jobs package -- both the proposed extension and expansion were rejected in the Senate.
The Senate Republican proposal would limit federal agencies to hiring only one replacement employee for every three full-time employees leaving the agency until employment has fallen by 10 percent. This would result in roughly 280,000 job losses -- ironic, given that the purpose of the payroll tax cut is to create jobs. Someone should remind the GOP that the purpose of a pay-for is to offset the cost of a policy, not its impact.
Laying off hundreds of thousands of federal workers is terrible policy for reasons beyond causing job loss during a jobs crisis. First, it ignores the need to keep up with a growing population. These civil service jobs deemed unnecessary by Senate Republicans include one out of 10 federal judges, FBI agents, Veterans Affairs doctors, National Institutes of Health cancer researchers, food safety inspectors, and air traffic controllers, to name just a few.