President Obama last year announced a two-year pay freeze for federal workers. He also proposed they pick up a bigger share of their pension contributions.
It was the right thing to do given the country's current fiscal predicament and that Americans in the private sector -- who foot the costs of the government work force -- have struggled mightily the past three years.
Now federal workers are being told this may not be the end of it. "I can't say nothing else will happen regarding the federal work force," Jack Lew, the president's budget chief, told The Washington Post.
For those who think federal employees are being unfairly picked on, consider that even under the president's "pay freeze," most still receive annual raises. The government's payroll costs will continue to increase.
The pay freeze applied only to cost-of-living adjustments. Meanwhile, reports the Federal Times, "Regularly scheduled step increases for the 1.4 million general schedule employees -- who make up two-thirds of the civilian work force -- will continue. The size of those increases ranges from 2.6 percent to 3.3 percent and by law kick in every one, two or three years, depending on an employee's time in grade."
All this will cost $2.5 billion a year, Federal Times notes.
The federal government has a payroll of about $447 billion. If the so-called budget supercommittee needs an easy place to save a few billion dollars, this is it. "Somehow, someway I think this country can survive on just a $400 billion payroll," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.