Under that plan, a repeat of an administration proposal advanced last year, federal employees would pay an additional 1.2 percentage points of their pay, spread out over three years — 0.4 percent annually. Federal retirement payments and Social Security payments, among other benefits, would increase at a slower rate under an alternative inflation index Obama recommended.So three years into a pay freeze and as furloughs under sequestration are starting, the president's budget has federal workers start paying more into their pensions and getting less out of them—but hey, he's proposing they get a one percent pay raise, so it's all good, right?
As a reminder, federal workers are not especially well-paid relative to their high level of qualifications; the percentage of federal workers who have advanced degrees is more than twice as high as the percentage in the private sector, for instance, and federal workers are also significantly more likely to have attended college than private sector workers. Freezing or cutting their pay and cutting their retirement benefits will make government work less likely to draw the highly skilled people we want as air traffic controllers, engineers, tracking and stemming the spread of disease, keeping us safe on the job, keeping our air and water clean. The president's budget makes clear that he knows this. But on this, as on Social Security, he's preemptively compromising with Republicans rather than putting up a real fight.