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Plan would freeze pay, cut workforce by 300,000

Jul. 18, 2011 - 06:08PM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
Sen. Tom Coburn said the government would save $229 billion over a decade by reducing the federal workforce by 15 percent.
Sen. Tom Coburn said the government would save $229 billion over a decade by reducing the federal workforce by 15 percent. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., on Monday released a sweeping proposal to reduce the deficit by $9 trillion over a decade, in part by cutting the federal workforce by 300,000 and changing how federal pensions are adjusted for inflation.

"The federal budget is bloated with hundreds of billions of dollars of waste, fraud and duplication," Coburn wrote in his report, "Back in Black: A Deficit Reduction Plan." "But in this era of trillion-dollar annual deficits, even saving hundreds of billions of dollars is not enough. Everyone will be asked to do more with less. This includes members of Congress, government employees and contractors, millionaires, and even the White House and Pentagon."

Coburn said the government would save $229 billion over a decade by reducing the federal workforce by 15 percent, by only allowing agencies to hire two new employees for every three who leave. He also wants to cut the federal contractor workforce by 15 percent, which he said would save $233 billion.

And Coburn said the government should start using the so-called chained Consumer Price Index to set cost-of-living adjustments for federal and military pensions. Economists say the current CPI system is inaccurate and results in larger adjustments, and that the chained CPI is a truer measure of inflation.

Coburn would also extend the current two-year cost-of-living adjustment pay freeze for federal employees by a third year and freeze other bonuses to save $144 billion. He did not propose changes to within-grade step increases.

Coburn also would eliminate the so-called "double dip" that allows retirees to be rehired by the government and be paid their full salary and full pension, a move he said would save at least $611 million over a decade.

Federal locality pay would also be frozen for five years, which Coburn said would save $71 billion over a decade.

Vacation and sick leave benefits would also take a hit under Coburn's plan. Federal employees would no longer be allowed to carry unused sick leave over into the next year.

And all feds would only be allowed to carry over 30 days of unused vacation time into the next year. Currently, feds stationed overseas can carry over 45 days, and members of the Senior Executive Service and other senior-level employees can carry over 90 days.

Coburn also wants to cut the budgets for federal travel, conferences, and vehicles.

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