April 13, 2011
Tim Kauffman/[email protected]

Ryan's Budget Plan a 'Shameful Attack' on Public Workers, Union Leader says

WASHINGTON – House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has lost any shred of integrity by introducing a 2012 budget resolution that is full of false assumptions, misleading statements and factual errors, the head of the largest federal employee union said today.

“Congressman Ryan unfairly targets federal workers by proposing to freeze federal wages, cut the work force and drastically raise pension contributions,” American Federation of Government Employees National President John Gage said. “It’s a shameful attack on federal workers who were not the cause of this massive budget deficit and can’t be the cure.”

“While that’s bad enough, Congressman Ryan doesn’t even bother to check his facts. His budget proposal contains so many inaccurate and outright preposterous claims that it wouldn’t hold up to a middle school debate team,” Gage said.

In attempting to justify extending to five years the current freeze on federal wages and salaries, Ryan compares average federal wages to median private sector wages. Even worse, his so-called “median private sector wage” actually is a median household income figure from the Census Bureau.

“Paul Ryan isn’t just comparing apples to oranges; he’s comparing a single apple to a basket full of oranges. It’s rotten any way you slice it,” Gage said.

Ryan says he’s “applying private-sector realities” to federal employees’ pay and benefits by proposing to dramatically increase federal employees’ contributions to their pensions. What he fails to mention is that the current system is fully funded and was created by President Reagan to explicitly match private sector practice, Gage said.

Ryan also makes the nonsensical claim that cutting the number of federal workers will boost private-sector employment and specifically criticizes the increase in federal workers during the Obama administration. This despite the fact that three-fourths of that increase was in three departments – Defense, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security – in response to national security requirements that predated President Obama’s election.

“I’d like Paul Ryan to explain to me how supporting our troops, taking care of our wounded warriors and protecting our borders is hampering private-sector job creation,” Gage said.

Ryan’s budget plan also is full of doublespeak meant to appease certain folks who can read between the lines, Gage said. Although he talks about “ending corporate welfare,” what he’s proposing is just the opposite.

“He wants to repeal the financial reforms Congress put in place after the financial meltdown, dismantle modest environmental protections even as oil spills and nuclear meltdowns make headlines around the world and cut the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans,” Gage said.

“I urge lawmakers not to be fooled by the catchy slogans and feel good hyperbole in Paul Ryan’s budget plan. This is just more of the same from a Republican-led House that is intent on killing safety net programs for the middle and lower classes while giving even larger tax breaks to the wealthy.”

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