SuperStorm Sandy may have done a lot of physical damage to the East Coast, but the aftermath was the real firestorm as Republicans bickered over spending federal dollars.
Voting against the funding was Erik Paulsen (R-MN-03), who failed to issue a press release explaining his reasoning … but he did issue a press release applauding the approval of H.R. 307 The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act … and he also issued a video response to a question concerning increases in pay for federal employees.
Hmmm … Representative Paulsen opposes funding for Sandy but wants monies for health preparedness (for example, that would be the operations of the National Disaster Medical System, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and federally purchased influenza vaccine in the event of an influenza pandemic) … and he opposes pay increases for federal employees.
Representative Paulsen spoke quite forcefully about that Members of Congress and the Vice President should not be receiving pay increases … yet fails to acknowledge what actions have been taken and who also would be impacted.
President Obama issued an executive order on December 22, 2010 freezing pay for civilian federal employees through December 31, 2012. President Obama issued an executive order on Dec. 27, 2012, that would end the two-year salary freeze on March 27 — when the current continuing resolution expires — and give civilian federal workers a pay raise that will generally be about 1/2 of 1% in 2013.
That’s all civilian workers … but the President also signed the “fiscal cliff” budget deal approved by the House and Senate which prevents the scheduled pay increase for Members of Congress from going into effect.
Thus the pay will not go up for Members of Congress but the valued worker at the CDC will be eligible for a 0.5 % increase after being denied increases for the past two years.
Representative Paulsen has joined with his colleagues to offer H.R.273 – To eliminate the 2013 statutory pay adjustment for Federal employees.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-VA-07, is scheduling a vote releasing a statement “At a time when we should be focused on helping families get on solid financial footing, members of Congress, the vice president, Cabinet secretaries and federal employees don’t need a raise. This across the board pay hike issued by President Obama through executive order will cost hardworking taxpayers $11 billion. ”
While many agree that Members of Congress “don’t need a raise” – and they are not getting one – what about the food safety inspector ? What about the employees of the International Boundary Commission: United States and Canada ? What about the employees at the Armed Forces Retirement Home ? And of course, the people at the CDC ?
And after three years of working without any pay increase and experiencing the same cost of living increases that families trying to stay “on solid financial footing” do, what will that do to employee morale and retention ? How quick will an Epidemiologist at the CDC jump ship when the phone rings … and will that help us respond when a pandemic event occurs ?
Interestingly, the bill is rather straightforward … it essentially says that there can be no salary increases sooner than December 31, 2013 … but it does not cut the funding by one single dollar … thus, it is questionable if any dollars will be saved ?
Oh, and remember that Majority Leader Cantor said the “executive order will cost hardworking taxpayers $11 billion” … really … $11 Billion dollars by delaying salary increases from March until next January ? Nah, Majority Leader Cantor should discuss this with his “highly-paid staff” who offered a slightly more realistic number …
According to a senior Republican congressional aide who has reviewed the executive order and consulted with the Congressional Budget Office, “On the cost-estimate, CBO says the (discretionary) cost of the .5% pay-hike the President is calling for in the Exec Order – relative to a freeze – is about $500m in FY 2013 and $11 billion over the ten years from FY 13 – FY 22. The reason why the FY ’13 savings is only $500 million is because the pay hike as proposed by the President’s Exec Order would not go into effect until April 1st, 2013 – when the current CR expires. So it only covers half the fiscal year.”
While Representative Paulsen is portraying himself as holding his own pay and protecting taxpayers’ dollars, there are other areas of federal spending that will receive increases in their budget.
Representative Paulsen notes that “Washington borrows 46-cents on every dollar it spends”, doesn’t it make you wonder should we be sending money overseas for Foreign Military Financing (FMF) … should we be increasing that spending … or should we be trying to collect the monies that are owed America ?
This year, the FMF going to Israel will increase from $3 Billion to $3.15 Billion … yep, Representative Paulsen wants to deny American workers an increase of 0.5%, it is never mentioned that Israel will get a 5% bump. Additionally, Israel owes America (Israel’s debt to the United States was $1 billion as of December 2006.)
First up … $647 million for munitions, which the Department of Defense states “Israel, which already has these munitions in its inventory, will have no difficulty absorbing these additional munitions into its armed forces.”
The $647 million will consist of 6,900 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) tail kits (which include 3,450 JDAM Anti-Jam KMU-556 (GBU-31) for MK-84 warheads; 1,725 KMU-557 (GBU-31) for BLU-109 warheads and 1,725 KMU-572 (GBU-38) for MK-82 warheads); 3,450 MK-84 2000 lb General Purpose Bombs; 1,725 MK-82 500 lb General Purpose Bombs; 1,725 BLU-109 Bombs; 3,450 GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs; 11,500 FMU-139 Fuses; 11,500 FMU-143 Fuses; and 11,500 FMU-152 Fuses. Also included are spare and repair parts, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and technical support, and other related elements of program support.
Of course, Congress could reject the sale, but they appear too busy puffing up their image as “wage warriors” and hope that taxpayers don’t remember who Israel turned to to pay for the Iron Dome defense system.