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Romney’s VP pick has backed cuts in take-home pay, workforce

Aug. 13, 2012 - 01:16PM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
Mitt Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, proposes cutting the federal workforce by 10 percent and cutting federal workers' take-home pay by 5 percent.
Mitt Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, proposes cutting the federal workforce by 10 percent and cutting federal workers' take-home pay by 5 percent. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s plans include steep cuts to federal employees’ take-home pay and a 10 percent reduction in the federal workforce.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney called Ryan “an intellectual leader of the Republican Party” when introducing his running mate Aug. 11.

“He understands the fiscal challenges facing America: our exploding deficits and crushing debt, and the fiscal catastrophe that awaits us if we don’t change course,” Romney said.

The House in May passed a bill proposed by Ryan that would phase in a five-percentage-point contribution hike in federal employees’ pension contributions over five years. This would leave Federal Employees Retirement System workers contributing 5.8 percent of each paycheck toward their pensions and Civil Service Retirement System employees contributing 12 percent. New FERS employees hired beginning in 2013 would automatically contribute 5.8 percent, with no phase-in.

This would effectively be a 5 percent cut in take-home pay for federal employees. The bill did not pass the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Ryan’s budget — which he released in March and dubbed “The Path to Prosperity” — also calls for freezing federal pay through 2015. This would turn the current two-year pay freeze into a five-year freeze.

He also cited in his budget proposal the Congressional Budget Office’s January study that found federal workers are compensated 16 percent higher than their private-sector counterparts, and proposed requiring federal employees to “make a more equitable contribution to their retirement plans.”

“Federal workers deserve to be compensated equitably for their important work, but their pay levels, pay increases and fringe benefits should be reformed to better align with those of their private-sector counterparts,” Ryan wrote. “Immune from the effects of the recession, federal workers have received regular salary bumps regardless of productivity or economic realities.”

And Ryan’s budget proposed cutting the federal workforce by 10 percent — or about 210,000 employees — over three years. Ryan said employees would be reduced “not through layoffs, but via a gradual, sensible attrition policy.”

In his budget, Ryan connected the growth in the federal workforce and national debt to the dismal private-sector job market.

“It is no coincidence that private-sector employment continues to grow only sluggishly while the government expands,” Ryan wrote. “To pay for the public sector’s growth, Washington must immediately tax the private sector or else borrow and impose taxes later to pay down the debt.”

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