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December 8, 2011

Federal worker pay targeted again on Capitol Hill

Maryland Democrats and federal employee unions attacked a new proposal floated on Capitol Hill Thursday that would pay for continuing a payroll tax cut by extending a freeze on federal workers.

Sen. Ben Cardin sent a letter to Democratic Senate leaders this week asking them to reject any proposal that would shrink federal worker compensation. In the letter – also signed by Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and six other Democrats – the lawmakers note that employees are already operating under a two-year pay freeze that began this year.

“Federal employees are facing the same challenges as other middle-class families during this difficult economic time,” the letter reads. “Yet, this sub-group of middle class workers is in danger of being singled out to offset a tax cut for all middle class Americans.”

Cardin’s push comes as House Republicans prepared to formally unveil a bill that would extend the expiring payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits in part by continuing the pay freeze on federal workers. A similar proposal failed in the Senate Thursday, with 76 senators – including 25 Republicans – opposed.

Maryland is home to 286,810 federal workers, according to the census, and 131,350 federal employees work in the state.

The American Federation of Government Employees, a union with members in Maryland, fired off a letter Thursday to every member of the House. The union estimates the two-year pay freeze already put in place by the Obama administration will trim the budget deficit by $60 billion.

The AFGE letter took aim at federal contractors, reiterating the union’s support for a $200,000 salary cap on contractor employees.

“Contractors, naturally, complain about having to make the same sacrifices that are being made by working class and middle class federal employees,” the letter read. “But if $200,000 is enough for cabinet secretaries, Nobel prize winning scientists at NIH and NASA, and other federal employee professionals…it’s enough for the government’s contractors, as well.”

Posted by John Fritze at 4:30 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Washington

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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