Causey looks back on fed bashing

Thursday - 1/13/2011, 10:55am EST

Mike Causey, Senior Correspondent, Federal News Radio

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

A bill that would adopt the Deficit Commission's recommendations has been introduced in the House of Representatives. It includes a ten-percent cut in the federal workforce.

Federal News Radio Senior Correspondent Mike Causey told the Federal Drive legislation like this normally wouldn't have much of an impact, but today? Well, he says we're living in interesting times.

"The one time that I can recall something like this happening - it was back when Senator (William) Roth of Delaware was chairing the key Senate (Governmental Affairs) committee. They did it and then they immediately started exempting agencies. They exempted Defense, IRS, the larger federal agencies were exempted. And it became kind of a joke," said Causey. "You'd think people have learned, but given the mood of the Congress, and apparently the public, I would say that this has a fairly good shot of happening."

If the suggestion of using attrition to reduce the federal workforce becomes law, all might not be lost. Something funny happens, said Causey, when attrition is part of the equation.

"When the government tightens hiring or starts making layoffs, people stop retiring." The rate of retirement drops, said Causey, "so this attrition thing is sort of self defeating. You announce attrition and then people stop attrititing, if that's the word."

Despite Causey's prediction of a possible easing up on the fed bashing in the near term, he said the hostility directed at feds "seems to have taken (on) a life of its own."

"This seemed to come out of the blue about a year ago," he explained, with a story in USA Today about the disparity on federal pay. "And then there was another one, and then the Wall Street Journal picked it up, and the Washington Times picked it up, and a number of publications and it was spread all around the country. As we say in the business, the story suddenly had legs. People seemed to be really interested in it."

Causey writes, there may be an "unofficial truce in the war on bloated bureaucrats and the bloated bureaucracy. But it probably won't last long."