During the past week, we’ve received a bolus dose of fear-mongering from big government establishment types who are scared to death that they suddenly might have to deal with smaller budget increases than they were expecting.
The automatic spending reductions that went into effect at midnight total around $85 billion for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. That’s about 2% of the total $3.8 trillion that the Federal government is projected to spend. Every working American has already dealt with a 2% reduction in earnings, thanks to the increase in FICA withholdings that went into effect on January 1. But the Federal government? Take away two cents on the dollar, and America as we know it is finished.
Of course everyone who has been paying attention knows it’s all a ruse. The Washington Post let the cat out of the bag earlier this week when it published this telling comment from a DC healthcare lobbyist: “The worst-case scenario for us is the sequester hits and nothing bad really happens. And Republicans say: See, that wasn’t so bad.”
As Charles Krauthammer recently noted, the tried-and-true tactic used by politicians frightened by the possibility of someone actually closing off the spigot of taxpayer money is “firemen first.” Threaten to give pink slips to sanitation workers, policemen, teachers, clerks at city hall, guards at the county jail, etc, and talk of budget cuts gets drowned out by the horrors of 10 foot high piles of garbage in the streets. Meanwhile, bloated municipal contracts, redundancy, waste, and fraud never seem to get mentioned by government leaders.
But as I was reading these latest predictions of doom that will stem from hundreds of thousands of Federal employees being laid off or furloughed, a thought occurred to me: where are the Federal employee unions in all of this? Seriously.
Whenever private sector unions are threatened with layoffs or pay reductions, they launch a full frontal assault against the corporation, alleging greed, waste and inefficiency, and hammering executives for the lavish pay that they earn. Remember when unions blamed “Bain-style Wall Street vultures” for the shut-down of Hostess?
Why haven’t we seen this tactic used against the Federal government? Aren’t unions supposed to protect the interests of their members? It’s not like examples of billions – no, hundreds of billions – in government waste are hard to find. And President Obama promised that he and his team would “go through our federal budget – page by page, line by line – eliminating those programs we don’t need, and insisting that those we do operate in a sensible cost-effective way.” Had they done this, the sequester would be a non-issue. Why isn’t he being held accountable for doing his job? Why aren’t his agency heads being publicly shamed for putting politics ahead of the well-being of Federal employees?
How can Federal employee unions simply sit by and let their members be threatened with layoffs and furloughs and not punch back?
I’d like to hear thoughts from anyone who is a unionized government employee. What is your union doing to protect your job?