Senators Proposing Spending Cut Package Won't Say If They'd Cut Wages of Federal Employees--Who Make an Average $123,049 in Annual Salary and Benefits

By Nicholas Ballasy | February 1, 2011 | 7:21 PM EST

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Isakson and Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

( - Four senators who say they want to cap federal spending over the next 10 years declined to say whether they would support cutting the wages of even a single federal employee.

Federal workers in 2009 made an average of $123,049 in salary and benefits, which is more than twice the average of $61,051 that workers made in the private sector, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. cited this data in a question to Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Sen. Johnny Isakson and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), and asked them if they supported cutting the salaries of federal workers to help rein in federal spending.

“You know, that’s the kind of question that causes us a lot of problems because it’s a micro approach to a macro problem. When I ran my business, if I had to make cost cuts to personal services, I did it through attrition and management of my hiring. You don’t want to pull out an individual worker and say okay, we’re going to have to cut all them,” said Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), a co-sponsor of the bill.

“You look in the macro sense, like Bob and Claire are doing, over a 10 year period of time, you can do remarkable things to change your spending without picking out one worker, isolating them and say, ‘well, we’re going to cut you.’ So I think the answer is, this is a macro approach and if we take micro examples and try and apply them, all you’re going to end up doing is creating animosity or inhibiting toward looking at it in total. This gives us a macro picture and a glide path to accomplish that and then you can do it through the management of the government over time rather than an isolated one-year period.”

Sen. McCaskill did not directly answer the question but said if different agencies that “duplicate efforts to train workers” can be combined, it would save money.

“If it means that since we have dozens of job training programs and dozens of different agencies that duplicate efforts to train workers in this country and most of them have no measure of whether they’re succeeded or failing, if through attrition or deciding that some of these programs can be combined, that means that we have fewer workers, that’s a good thing. That’s saving money,” said Sen. McCaskill, a sponsor of the bill.

“That is also good management and we shouldn’t, you know, I think one of the problems we have on this subject is way too many people who run for office want to say, ‘well it’s just waste, fraud and abuse.’ Well, trust me it’s not. It’s not enough to do just waste, fraud and abuse and any body who uses that phrase to say they’re going to deal with a long-term economic crisis in terms of our stability as a nation is not being genuine. But is it part of it? Yeah, it’s part of it especially when it has to do with the federal work force.”

Senators Corker and Kirk did not say anything at all in response to's question.

The four senators are sponsoring the CAP Act that would cap discretionary and non-discretionary spending over a 10-year period. The legislation aims to bring spending down from the current level of 24.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 20.6 percent.  In the years from World War II until the last few years, the federal government spent an average of about 18 percent of GDP per year.