Gov Careers

By Phil Piemonte

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Furloughs, freezes and other measures

The shift in power in the House in the new year may put a lot of things back on the table when it comes to the federal workplace.

Of course, legislation affecting feds still needs to pass through the Senate, which Democrats will still control, and then get past President Obama’s veto pen.

But chances for passing some recently introduced bills which contain measures like pay freezes, workforce reductions and furloughs may be a bit better these days than they might have been in years past.

The reason?

Let’s put it this way. Battle-weary soldiers often exhibit something called the “thousand-yard stare.” Today’s legislators, traumatized by being in constant campaign mode, have developed something we might call the “two-year stare.” In other words, they face the constant temptation to measure what they do today by how it will affect the political landscape (and their own chances for holding onto their seats) come the next election.

While the two-year stare is not a new phenomenon, various pressures—including the constantly increasing cost of running for office, and the emergence of politics as a year-round form of “entertainment” on TV, radio and the Internet—has made it much more common.

Back to those bills. In the case of Democrats, the temptation to join the crowd and pile up a few brownie points for fiscal conservatism before the 2012 election will be pretty substantial given the national mood, especially since the White House will be in the balance two years hence.

Time will tell.

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Nov 05, 2010 at 12:13 PM


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