Leadership

What will Paul Ryan’s speakership mean for federal workers?

Paul Ryan was elected the 54th Speaker of the House of Representatives Oct. 29.

What will Paul Ryan's speakership portend for federal employees?

Nothing good, according to National Federation of Federal Employees National President William R. Douglas.

"During his chairmanship [of the House Budget Committee] he largely drove the boat that sought countless cuts to retirement benefits for federal employees, arbitrary across-the-board job cuts at some of our most crucial government agencies and hit home this theme that federal employees were an ATM used to balance the federal budget," Douglas told FCW.

Ryan led the Budget Committee for four years, submitting budget plans that targeted the elimination of the federal deficit inside of a decade, in part by slashing agency spending

Ryan also assisted in approving legislation that cut federal employees' pay by requiring them to contribute 6.35 percent of their paychecks toward their defined benefit. In 2012, Ryan's budget plan called for longer federal pay freezes than President Obama's three-year basic pay freeze, and in 2013, he negotiated with Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) a two-year budget deal that increased pension contribution levels to 4.4 percent for federal workers hired after 2013.

 "We think that federal workers should have to pay half of their pensions themselves instead of having the private sector taxpayers pay for all of it, " Ryan said at the time.

Ryan's 2015 budget resolution, meanwhile, planned to make the majority of federal employees pay 5.5 percentage points more toward their retirement program with no increase in benefits. Ryan also sought an end to student loan repayment programs for feds.

Democrats were fiercely critical of Ryan's plan at the time. A Democratic report from the House Budget Committee complained that, "[f]ederal workers are hardworking, middle class Americans who are struggling through difficult times and yet no one group has been asked to contribute more to deficit reduction."

While many of Ryan's proposals were ultimately rejected by the Senate, his positions earned him failing grades on voting scorecards from federal employee organizations. The American Federation of Government Employees gave Ryan a zero for failing to agree with their legislative positions a single time. He scored slightly better with the National Treasury Employees Union at 10 percent.

NTEU National President Tony Reardon urged Ryan, in his new leadership role, to embrace "a bipartisan manner to resolve the nation's problems" and to recognize "the valuable contributions federal employees makes every day."

About the Author

Aleida Fernandez is an FCW editorial fellow.

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