When it comes to US austerity, a very sensitive topic as framed best by the "spending cuts" portion in the Fiscal Cliff debate, the ideas range from the surreal to the outright idiotic: as an example in the most recent Obama proposal spending would be "reduced" in the form of $290 billion in interest savings - not an actual spending reduction, but a hope and a prayer that because rates are lower, the government will "save" money with rates continuing to be lower (something which immediately causes a #Ref! explosion for anyone not using government math), $130 billion in savings that would come from once again rejiggering the definition of 'inflation', as well as "savings" from not funding extra defense spending because the US is not engaged in a pro forma war. Like we said: surreal and idiotic, or in other words, no actual real cuts to spending. Yet even as the nation is gripped by the melodrama of fake spending cuts offset by the threat to tax millionaires more (all of whom will merely find more creative and effective ways to hide their wealth and income offshore), spending increases are all too real, such as last night's order by Obama's just issued an executive order to end the pay freeze for federal employees, which is the equivalent of a wage increase. A truly deserved rise in wages for a job well done by the most dysfunctional Congress America has ever seen.
Among the workers to receive a pay increase is Vice President Job Biden. As the Weekly Standard reports, citing disclosure forms, Biden made $225,521 last year and after the pay increase, he'll now make $231,900 per year. More: "Members of Congress, from the House and Senate, also will receive a little bump, as their annual salary will go from $174,000 to 174,900. Leadership in Congress, including the speaker of the House, will likewise get an increase." Somehow we have the feeling that Congress will be quite united behind this "order", just as the Senate was very united yesterday in its decision to continue spying on America's citizens.
From the Weekly Standard:
Here's the list of new wages, as attached to President Obama's executive order:
"A new executive order has been issued providing for a new pay schedule beginning 'on the first day of the first applicable pay period beginning after March 27, 2013,'" reports FedSmith.com. "The pay raise will generally be about 1/2 of 1%."
Jeryl Bier points to an example of the pay increase for average government executives:
"Not much of an increase, but an increase all the same," Bier notes.
And the timing isn't great either: Just as President Obama and Congress try to avert going over the "fiscal cliff," he doles out pay increases to federal workers.
UPDATE: According to a senior Republican congressional aide who has reviewed the executive order and consulted with the Congressional Budget Office, Obama's pay raise will cost $11 billion. "The CBO told us that the President’s pay raise for federal workers will cost $11 billion over ten years," says the aide.
The aide explains, "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. The annualized cost of the pay hike is about $1 billion/year."