Hoyer defends federal employees' pay

Dec. 15, 2011 at 2:36 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday called on Republicans to stop attempting to balance the budget on the backs of federal workers.

"I rise out of deep concern that this Congress continues to ask one group to sacrifice to bring down our nation's deficit while not asking others to contribute," said Hoyer, D-Md, the House minority whip.

Hoyer said the GOP should stop singling out civilian federal employees for verbal attacks, unfairly asking them to do more than their fair share to help reduce the budget deficit.

"While everything must be on the table when addressing the budget, I am deeply disappointed that Republicans continue to attack these public servants unfairly and single them out to sacrifice while not asking others, including the wealthiest Americans, to share in the burden of deficit reduction," Hoyer said in prepared remarks.

Hoyer said he supports a 1.6 percent pay raise for U.S. military personnel the House approved Wednesday as part of the defense authorization bill and noted civilian federal workers on average make 26.3 percent less than private sector workers.

"America's public servants are already making sacrifices, because they love this country and recognize that, when times are tight, everyone has to pitch in," he said. "I hope Republicans in this House will join me in thanking them for their service and recognizing how much they are already sacrificing instead of targeting them for criticism purely as a result of ideology."

Senate aides said Wednesday Democrats may drop their millionaires-surtax bid to pay for a payroll-tax cut as a partisan logjam threatened a government shutdown.

The decision to abandon the 1.9 percent surtax on gross income of more than $1 million came during a Senate Democratic leaders meeting with President Barack Obama, the aides told CNN and several newspapers.

On Thursday, Obama told an audience at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building "the defining issue of our time is whether we can build an economy where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded."

He said Congress might have to delay its vacation to ensure that working people can earn enough to raise a family, save, buy a home, have a secure retirement and look after their children.

"And right now, Congress needs to make sure that 160 million working Americans don't see their taxes go up on Jan. 1," Obama said.

The money to pay for the $120 billion Social Security payroll-tax cut extension would come from cutting federal programs, The New York Times reported.

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