Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A leading Republican deficit hawk proposes cutting out federal employees’ 1.4 percent 2011 pay raise, which would represent less than two-tenths of a percent of the annual $1.4 trillion deficit and not even scratch our fiscal troubles. Federal unions holler and decry the effect a pay freeze will have on federal workers, who are — let’s be honest — relatively shielded from the economic troubles facing much of the rest of the nation, such as layoffs. Both sides pull out their own conflicting numbers on the difference between federal and private-sector pay — neither of which are completely reliable.
Wash, rinse, repeat. And because this is an election year, we’re going to see this two-step happen a lot more before November rolls around.