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Cavuto Baselessly Suggests Obama Administration Responsible For Higher Federal Salaries, Overlooks His Role In Limiting Increases And Bush’s Role In Expanding Them

Reported by Ellen - December 16, 2009 -

Co-authored by Brian

Neil Cavuto devoted his Friday (12/11/09) editorial to excoriating the federal government for capping bank salaries “but refusing to say boo about exploding government worker salaries.” It made for some nifty sound bites. But when USA Today did a thorough analysis, it found that President Obama was responsible for none of the boom in raises. It reported that he and Congress have taken steps to curtail large increases. Cavuto also overlooked the fact that one key reason USA Today found for the big increases was that the last two pay raises for federal employees had been recommended by then-president George W. Bush. With video.

Cavuto said, "The government is busy today capping more bank salaries, but refusing to say boo about exploding government worker salaries… Because never mind both the number of bankers and what they make have declined double digits over the last 18 months; the number of federal employees making $100,000 or more has jumped 5% in the last 18 months… And if you are a government worker, damn good pay if you're lucky to have it; about 30% more than the average private sector worker… And in an economy that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector, damn near boom times in the public sector. Nice for even mid-level government guys, whose salaries are soaring. Not so nice for mid-level banking guys, whose salaries are not. Then again, bankers make more money, don’t they? And we as taxpayers have given them a lot of money, haven’t we? …Washington fixated on setting pay for those it controls, but saying not a damn thing about the pay for those it employs.

But when USA Today analyzed the salary data, it found three key reasons for the boom in six-figure salaries. President Obama and Congress have already taken steps to rein in two of them:

• Pay hikes. Then-president Bush recommended — and Congress approved — across-the-board raises of 3% in January 2008 and 3.9% in January 2009. President Obama has recommended 2% pay raises in January 2010, the smallest since 1975. Most federal workers also get longevity pay hikes — called steps — that average 1.5% per year.

•New pay system. Congress created a new National Security Pay Scale for the Defense Department to reward merit, in addition to the across-the-board increases. The merit raises, which started in January 2008, were larger than expected and rewarded high-ranking employees. In October, Congress voted to end the new pay scale by 2012.

• Paycaps eased. Many top civil servants are prohibited from making more than an agency's leader. But if Congress lifts the boss' salary, others get raises, too. When the Federal Aviation Administration chief's salary rose, nearly 1,700 employees' had their salaries lifted above $170,000, too.

Furthermore, USA Today also reported, "Jessica Klement, government affairs director for the Federal Managers Association, says the federal workforce is highly paid because the government employs skilled people such as scientists, physicians and lawyers. She says federal employees make 26% less than private workers for comparable jobs."

Funny how none of that information made it into Cavuto’s editorial.