Corporate profits are up, especially in finance, and yet hiring and wages aren't. No matter how much productivity spikes, wages stay stagnant. They haven't budged. That means workers doing more work for less pay. So what's a Democratic administration to do?
Freeze federal workers' wages! That's what. President Obama on Monday announced a two year pay freeze for civilian federal workers. "The hard truth" is that controlling the deficit's going to "require some broad sacrifice" that public workers are going to have to share in, said the Pres.
A brave move to take on those overpriced slackers on the federal dime. . . Right?
Not quite. Federal workers are an easy target because it's been drilled into us that public workers are soaking up taxpayer largesse. But it's not true. As Lawrence Mishel at the Economic Policy Institute notes, federal workers' pay actually lags behind the private sector about 22%--according to the government's own figures.
And although that $2 billion Obama estimates he'll save in cost-of-living increases for federal employees sounds like a lot of money, it isn't. I mean, compare it to the $700 billion that we handed over to Wall Street, or the $700 billion we pour into the war budget...
But where else is the government going to get $2 billion? Well, journalist and Das Krapital blogger Moe Tkacik points out that if we wanted to raise taxes on the wealthiest one percent instead, we'd have to raise them a whole lot! Like, 0.072 percentage points! ("Tax only billionaires and centimillionaires, and you could do it with an extra 0.275% in taxes at most," she notes.)
But why tax bailed-out billionaires when there are struggling federal workers you can squeeze?
And a public employees union you can stick it to?
I mean, who ELSE are they going to vote for?
The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv and editor of At The Tea Party, out now from OR Books. GRITtv broadcasts weekdays on DISH Network and DIRECTv, on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter and be our friend on www.twitter.com/Gritlaura