McCain, Coburn: Freeze feds' salaries to pay for wars

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz, and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., today filed amendments to the Iraq and Afghanistan war supplemental spending bills that seek to offset its costs by cutting spending elsewhere — and feds aren’t going to like what they’ve got in mind.

McCain and Coburn want to save about $2.6 billion by freezing federal employees’ raises, bonuses and other salary increases for one year. This comes on the heels of their House counterparts’ move to put federal raises on the chopping block as part of their YouCut program.

They also seek to eliminate non-essential government travel ($10 billion over 10 years), collect unpaid taxes from federal employees ($3 billion), dispose of unneeded government property ($15 billion), reduce government printing and publishing costs ($4.4 billion over 10 years), eliminate bonuses for poor-performing government contractors ($8 billion over 10 years), and auction off unused and unneeded government equipment ($250 million over 10 years).

All in all, McCain and Coburn say the proposed cuts would cover $120 billion in war spending costs, although it’s worth noting that $33 billion of those savings would come over 10 years. But is the tax thing really fertile ground for finding new money? The IRS already levies feds’ salaries to recover those funds under the Federal Payment Levy Program, and apparently there’s a good bit of turnover on the list, which suggests tax-delinquent feds do eventually pay off their debts.

So feds, what do you think? Sound off below, or shoot me an e-mail at


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  1. Why don’t they try getting back the $50 billion in taxpayer dollars that paid for Wall St. bonuses last year and this year. All Congressman should volunteer to cut their own salaries by 50% and reduce their own staffs/expenses/travel by 75%. That should be good for another $25 Billion.

  2. After almost 31 years, I an no longer suprised by what Congress tries to do. And like many other problems in the past 30 years, the Federal Government Employees are always made an example of. I wish Congress did the same to themselves. How about looking at all the Pork and Special Interest attachments to bills and take them back. We are still going throuh the DCIPS freeze — we wil not get a raise until 2012 from that. So, I would say, enough is enough. Thanks for your articles. They are very helpful.

  3. Jacqueline Young on

    Okay, as long as House and Senate members reduce their HUGE retirement benefits, cut their salaries or freeze them for 10 years, stop their unnecessary and costly globe-trotting trips using federal travel money, and cut out all of the other perks and bonuses they receive as elected government officials. Turn about is fair play. Oh, I have a better idea! Pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan completely…if House and Senate members start crying about money being taken from their pockets…

  4. Freeze Fed salaries and bonuses? Sure, why not?

    John Berry, head of OPM, says only 2% of feds quit – as opposed to retire – each year. The other 98% hang in there. Why? Because they have a good deal, and are not able to do better, that’s why.

  5. The British cabinet is taking a 5% cut in salary, teachers in Ireland are losing 20%, and government retirees in Greece are losing 40%. We’ll be lucky if they only freeze pay for one year.

  6. Why dont we save this money by getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan? How about trimming down the military? Perhaps it’s time for the rest of the world to fend for itself. We no longer need to be part of NATO. Europe should be able to stand on it’s own feet without the US having to spend billions on bases there. Same goes for Japan and South Korea. It’s time for the US to stop being the world police force. At the rate we are going into debt, there wont be a country left to defend.

  7. Like anything else its a few bad apples lend to the perception that all federal employees don’t deserve and work hard for saving taxpayer dollars. I have recently hired laid off workers from other industries and they are shocked at how hard we work! They tell us they have never seen anything like it. Cutting pay raises just means higher turnover rates as people leave for higher grades rather than stay where they know the job and are trained for it – in the end costing much more than saved. This is an old trick that Ed Mechum in State of Arizona played on the backs of the state workers and the turnover tripled as a result.

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  10. WTF? an employee is an employee, whether we work for walmart or the gov’t. No one deserves to have their hard earned dollar taken away to pay for wars. It should be optional. Those who are for supporting the war can refuse their raise to pay for it. I’m sure McCain would gladly give up his raise…. NOT!

  11. What ? Pay for the war in Iraq?? In selling their pre-emptive war in Iraq, Bush and Cheney assured us that oil revenues from their liberated Iraq would pay most of our costs. What happened to that? Republicans like McCain and Coburn helped push the flawed vision and mismanagement of the war. Why should Feds be punished for their folly? Somebody please ask McCain and Coburn what happened to the promised Iraqui oil windfall for the U.S!

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