Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney waves as he arrives in Portsmouth, N.H., on Saturday. The GOP platform says the federal government should use attrition to reduce the payroll by at least 10 percent and adjust “pay scales and benefits to reflect those of the private sector.” (Jewel Samad / AFP via Getty Images)
The Republican National Convention approved a party platform Tuesday that calls for cutting the federal workforce by at least 10 percent, overhauling federal pay and benefits, as well as privatizing airport screening and possibly some U.S. Postal Service operations.
Although the document acknowledges the dedication of federal employees, it says that the civil service has grown by at least 140,000 employees under the Obama administration, while the number making $150,000 or more has doubled. “At a time when the national debt has increased to over $15.9 trillion under the current administration, this is grossly irresponsible,” the platform continues. Instead, the government should use attrition to reduce the payroll by at least 10 percent and adjust “pay scales and benefits to reflect those of the private sector.”
“The federal pay system should be sufficiently flexible to acknowledge and reward those who dare to innovate, reduce overhead, optimize processes and expedite paperwork,” the document adds.
In prepared statements, federal labor leaders criticized the GOP proposals as unfair and counterproductive.
National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley said she was “deeply disappointed,” adding that the plan would target middle-class federal employees who have already been under a two-year freeze on base pay.
The GOP believes in “taking a hacksaw” to needed programs, said J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees.
Federal employees treat wounded veterans, process and deliver millions of Social Security checks every month and ensure food safety, Cox said. “It’s hard for me to imagine a country that would turn its back on its citizens, but that’s exactly what this GOP platform proposes to do,” he added.
The platform also:
å Attacks the Transportation Security Administration as “a massive bureaucracy of 65,000 employees who seem to be accountable to no one for the way they treat travelers.” Instead, the government should return airport screening to private firms “whenever feasible,” the document says, adding that “we … look toward the development of security systems that can replace the personal violation of frisking.” Congress created TSA soon after the September 2001 terrorist attacks out of concern that private contractors — who had been responsible for airport screening up to that point — were doing a poor job.
å Urges a “dramatic restructuring” of the U.S. Postal Service, including a look at partly privatizing its operations. “In light of the Postal Service’s seriously underfunded pension system, Congress should explore a greater role for private enterprise in appropriate aspects of the mail processing system,” theplatform says.
Calling the Postal Service’s pension system underfunded is inaccurate, however. There is bipartisan agreement that the Postal Service has overfunded its share of the Federal Employees Retirement System. A bill sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., for example, would refund $11 billion to the mail carrier in excess FERS contributions.