WASHINGTON – President Obama’s fiscal 2015 budget puts America on the path toward sustained economic recovery by rejecting failed austerity policies of the past in favor of targeted investments in federal programs and services that will create jobs and lift millions of Americans out of poverty, American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. today.
“The president’s budget puts shared prosperity ahead of crippling austerity by raising the minimum wage, investing in public infrastructure projects, closing tax loopholes that benefit millionaires and billionaires, and investing in federal programs that will create jobs and expand opportunity,” Cox said.
After years of mean-spirited and harmful cuts to the federal workforce, AFGE is pleased that this budget calls for new investments in training, development and recruitment of the federal workforce. In particular, the fully paid for $56 billion Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative would help restore years of frozen and reduced budgets for discretionary programs in such critical areas as education, scientific research, public health, veterans’ hospitals, job training programs and national security.
Despite these achievements, President Obama’s budget still stops short of repairing all of the damage that has been done to the federal workforce under the guise of austerity, Cox said. The proposed 1 percent pay raise for 2015 is woefully inadequate after three consecutive years of frozen wages, higher retirement contributions and the loss of pay due to sequestration-related furloughs last year, Cox said.
“Federal employees are on the hook for $138 billion thanks to years of policies that put slashing the deficit ahead of creating new jobs,” Cox said. “President Obama needs to repudiate these failed policies by providing federal employees with a meaningful pay raise of 4 percent next year and working with Congress to fully repeal all of the cuts that have been made to federal retirement benefits.”
AFGE also has grave concerns about the impact of the administration’s reform package targeting the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, particularly the right to discriminate among enrollees on the basis of health conditions and the proposal to replace nationwide plans with regional preferred provider organizations (PPOs).
In addition, AFGE is calling on the Obama administration to launch a governmentwide insourcing initiative that would replace costly and unaccountable contractors with less expensive and proven federal employees that can deliver services for taxpayers with more efficiency, effectiveness and accountability.