Friday, January 03, 2014

Just Compensation

In 2011, President Obama, in an unsuccessful attempt to get Republicans to acknowledge his fealty to austerity (he is, after all, a socialist), froze federal salaries. He then kept them frozen in 2012 and when he tried to raise them for 2013, Republicans in Congress stepped in to keep them frozen. So for three years, pay for federal workers, of which I am one, hasn’t gone up. Given inflation, that means my buying-power has actually gone down.

Recognizing that diminishing salaries isn’t good policy to attract quality job-seekers or maintain a dedicated, experienced federal workforce, the President implemented a 1% salary increase for 2014 and Congress, probably more due to its ineptitude than anything, didn’t challenge that. So salaries just went up a whopping 1%.

Unfortunately, also due to its ineptitude, Congress didn’t renew a transit benefit that provides subsidies to those same federal employees who utilize the DC area’s mass transit system. This benefit is a net economic positive as it moves thousands of workers from the highways onto public transit, thus reducing commuting times for everyone, wear and tear on the highways, giving the Metro a badly needed financial boost, and reducing pollution. Failure to renew the benefit will actually harm the local economy.

As for the personal impact, the reduction in transit benefits is just about equal to the increase I received in my salary. So, stagnant wages for another year for me.


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