Whack DC But Hit Denver & Houston

Thursday - 1/20/2011, 4:00am EST

When it's life-or-death decision time to stomp a poison snake, it's important for the stomper to miss his own foot in the process. There is a lesson here for politicians at war with bloated bureaucracy. The red tape/duplication to them is represented by Disneyland on the Potomac, a.k.a. Washington, D.C.

But it doesn't work like that because...

Most of the government's service, population, customers and payroll is out there, not here.

Pay freezes, layoffs and furloughs have their greatest impact beyond the beltway. The DC area makes it through thick and thin. But many smaller (and not so small) communities suffer big-time when the federal presence is limited or removed. Can you say BRAC?

Sticking it to the pointy-headed DC-based bureaucrats is a time-honored tradition, but doing it always a major jolt in the old wallet for decent, honest and untainted civil servants from Oregon to Florida and points in between. In many communities the federal-military payroll, good or bad, is all that's keeping them afloat.

The White House and Congress have already imposed a white collar federal pay freeze that's to run until (at least) January, 2013. That's a done deal. Next step...

Congress will take up the CUTS (Cut Unsustainable and Top-heavy Spending Act) that would eliminate one in 10 federal jobs and extend the pay freeze until 2014. It's author, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) estimates it would save $153 billion over the next 5 years.

Meantime, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) is pushing for a two-week furlough of nonessential federal government workers this year. The impact that would have on Defense operations, Homeland Security, Customs, tax collection and refunds, air traffic control and Social Security payments and claims could be interesting. Deciding which government operations are essential (as in exempt) is always an eye-opening exercise.

This is not the first time well-meaning politicians have proposed cuts or freezes to ease the burdens on the taxpayers. But if the past is prolog, it may be one of those easier said than done activities. In addition to the strain on services (if any,) consider what the cuts and furloughs would mean (forget about morale and productivity) and the back home impact.

Texas and Colorado have very, very large numbers of federal government workers and retirees

Colorado, a relatively low population state, has 87,712 active and retired federal civil servants. They are concentrated in the Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs area, but live, work and vote in every county and congressional district. More than 6,000 of them are represented by Coffman, a freshman.

Texas, a population giant, has 300,694 feds and retired feds. That is more than the District of Columbia (209,654), Maryland (296,295) and almost as many as Virginia (307,719). Feds in Texas are concentrated in Houston, Dallas-Ft.Worth-Arlington, San Antonio, Austin and along the Mexican border. That's a lot of territority. Rep. Brady's east Texas district, which touches the northern suburbs of Houston, is home to 4,100 feds and retirees.

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com


Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

The "US Government Standard Bathroom Malodor," according to Guinness World Records 2009 is one of the two "smelliest substances" known. The other is known as "Who-Me?," which has a delightful name, but lacks the je ne sais quoi of USGSBM's acronym.


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