Van Hollen: debt cutting focuses too much on feds

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor

Overwhelmingly, members of the federal community expressing opinions on Federal News Radio have been supportive of the President’s efforts to reduce the deficit, including freezing federal pay, but nearly all of them are also feeling a little thrown under the bus.

As Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) told The Federal Drive, “what I object to with the White House decision is singling out federal employees”.

Without being part of an overall plan, said Van Hollen, we “run the risk of falling into the trap of this myth that…we have an unproductive and overpaid workforce which is just purely false.”


The Representative, who will be the top Democrat on the Budget Committee next year, said his problem with the freeze was more about the how than the what of the plan.

“My concern in the way the White House rolled this out was that it gave some ammunition to folks who want to perpetuate this myth.”

According to Van Hollen, federal employees are not only not overpaid, but paid less than private sector counterparts. He also noted the size of the federal government is “smaller than it has been many times in the past.”

Can we really do with less FBI agents? Do you want to do with less Border Security agents? Do you want fewer people processing Social Security checks, meaning that they won’t get there on time? So these are real choices, and so to feed the myth that we have an unproductive or overpaid federal workforce I think is a mistake.

Van Hollen acknowledged all federal employees and even members of the military have a part to play in reducing federal debt. “Everybody needs to do their part.” he said. “”It’s just that federal employees shouldn’t be singled out.”

He said there should be a full national debate on the ideas presented by the Presidential deficit commission and others.