Trump Faces Praise, Outrage After Fulfilling Major Campaign Promise to Reduce Gov’t Size

POTUS says this is part of his vow to drain the swamp by nixing 'inappropriate' pay raises costing $25 billion

Image Credit: Shutterstock

President Donald Trump earned praise and wrath after he announced Thursday that he would be nixing $25 billion in scheduled January 2019 pay raises for civilian career federal employees as part of his effort “to put our nation on a fiscally sustainable course.”

“We must maintain efforts to put our nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases,” Trump wrote in a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), adding, “I view the increases that would otherwise take effect as inappropriate.”

The federal government employees approximately 2.1 million career civil servants.

Trump noted in the letter that the federal employees in question otherwise would have received pay raises costing American taxpayers $25 billion, in addition to a 2.1 percent increase across the board.

Career federal workers typically are paid on average 80 percent more in salary and benefits than private sector employees, according to a September 2017 study by the Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards. Federal employee unions hotly dispute those figures.

“Since the 1990s, federal workers have enjoyed faster compensation growth than private sector workers. In 2016 federal workers earned 80 percent more, on average, than private sector workers,” Edwards wrote.

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The president insisted that “these alternative pay plan decisions will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well‑qualified Federal workforce.”

Trump promised during his presidential campaign to nix government “waste, fraud and abuse” and “cut so much your head will spin.”

Some Republicans praised Trump’s decision to hold the government accountable.

Related: Obama Judge Stops Trump Order for Draining Deepest Part of the Swamp

“I’m pleased to see that @POTUS is canceling an across-the-board pay raise for civilian federal govt workers. Earlier this summer, I tried to accomplish this in Congress by submitting an amendment in the Approps Cmte. However, my amendment was rejected 2-29,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) tweeted.

Cato’s Edwards also praised the decision, saying it “will save taxpayers a decent amount of money depending on how long it is in place. The three-year Obama federal pay freeze saved taxpayers about $90 billion over 10 years.”

Edwards also described Trump’s pay freeze as “good politics” because “many Republicans campaigned on a federal pay freeze in the congressional elections of 2010, and it was factor that added to the historical Tea Party success of that year.”

But Democratic lawmakers decried Trump’s decision to drain the swamp.

“The Trump Adm. today opposed a pay increase for Federal workers. The hardworking Federal employees I’m honored to represent in Vermont are dedicated to our state and nation. They deserve better,” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) tweeted.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) — whose state is home to hundreds of thousands of federal workers — slammed the president’s decision as “the latest attack in the Trump Administration’s war on federal employees,” accusing Trump of throwing “hardworking federal employees under the bus on the pretext of fiscal responsibility.”

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said in a statement, “Zero. This seems to be how much respect President Trump has for federal workers.” Maryland, like Virginia, is home to hundreds of thousands of civil servants.

(photo credit, homepage and article images: Nancy Pelosi, Kim Wilson / Shutterstock.com & Donald Trump, CC BY-SA 2.0, Cropped/Cut Out/Collage, by Gage Skidmore & Chuck Schumer, CC BY-SA 2.0, Cropped/Cut Out/Collage, by Edward Kimmel)

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