Thanks For Your Service: P.S. You're Fired!

Thursday - 2/17/2011, 4:00am EST

Although it's only February, and Vice President Joe Biden has not been heard from in awhile, some people are predicting that House Speaker John Boehner is the front-runner to win two coveted and competing honors. They are:

  • The 2011 Foot-in-Mouth Award/National Political Category.

  • Most Courageous Statesman of the Year Award.

Frequently, given the split personality of American politics, it is possible for the same person to win both awards at the same time.

The Speaker of the House became a gutsy take-no-prisoners! hero to some and a you-heartless-villian! to others at a Tuesday press conference. The subject was the House GOP budget which would make major cuts in major federal programs. Among other things it would eliminate a couple of hundred thousand federal jobs. Boehner said the number of federal workers has grown by more than 200,000 since President Obama took office and "if some of those jobs are lost, so be it!"

Thanks in part to a batch of statistics-heavy articles about overpaid, underworked federal bureaucrats, many people are upset with the government, including both for what it is doing and what it is not doing.

And there are genuine horror stories about state and local government employee benefits coming out of New York, California and Illinois. Florida is considering a reduction in state pension benefits. California is dealing with mind-boggling spending out of a tiny town where the chief of police makes more than his counterparts in New York City, Chicago or LA. But while those are state and or local government problems, they are not feds. Inside the Beltway the former executive of a major county has been charged with a number of serious charges. Police and federal agents who raided his home said his wife tried to stash a large amount of cash in her undergarments.

Back in the day, Queen Marie Antoinette, when told that the peasants were hungry, reportedly said: "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche!" When further informed that the peasants were also revolting, her wise-acre husband Louis is believed to have said "they certainly are!"

(For those of you who lack my formal education in the Romance languages i.e. a coveted D-plus in French at Washington, D.C.'s Gordon Jr. High School, a rough translation is: "Let them eat cake." Some historians doubt she said it. But whether guilty or not, the belief that she said it had a detrimental impact on her reign.)

Many people in economically hammered Ohio probably agree with the Speaker that there are too many federal workers. Among those who might disagree, however, would be the 133,000 federal workers and their families in the state.

But his comments drew immediate flack from quietly grateful postal and federal unions. They needed, and now have, a bona fide issue that (they hope) will jump start their efforts to get the largely unorganized nonpostal federal workforce to join up. It will probably help the cause of the American Federation of Government Employees and rival National Treasury Employees Union in their efforts to win exclusive bargaining rights (and new members) in the Transporation Security Administration.

Joe Beaudoin, president of the bipartisan National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association said he was stunned by the "so be it" comment. He said he was surprised at the Speaker's "indifference to the future of federal employees who...protect us from infectious diseases, warn us if a bad winter storm is coming and care for our veterans..."

Republicans have said the President's budget is DOA (for dead on arrival). The White House has promised to veto the pending CR (continuing resolution) which expires March 4 if it contains significant cuts in key federal programs.

The winners in all this? Some politicians, some pressure groups and the media which thrives on sound bites.

The potential losers? Look in the mirror.

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com


Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

In listing America's Drunkest Cities, Men's Health magazine ranked Washington, DC the 37th drunkest city in the country. Time magazine's newsfeed turns the rankings into a NUF by questioning "how sober the cities actually are." Essentially asking whether the featured cities drink less, or are just really good at handling their booze.

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