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Mr. CONNOLLY. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Maryland.
The distinguished chairman of this committee says that we're entitled to our opinions, but not our own facts while he calls upon our friend from Florida, a former member of our committee, who cherry-picks from the Simpson-Bowles committee, the same committee that said we need a $4 trillion hit on the debt over the next 10 years and it has to be a balance between revenue and spending cuts. My friend from Florida and my friend from California fail to cite that fact. That's a fact.
The chairman just put up a sign talking about the exit rate in the Federal workforce. What he doesn't tell you is that 47 percent of the existing Federal workforce is eligible for retirement over this next decade because of the baby boom demographic. How will we replace them, especially the higher-skilled set?
My friend from California, like me, came from the private sector before he came here. He was more successful than I. Very successful. I applaud him for that. But I would hope that in that success we don't lose sight of that GS-3 making $27,000 a year serving our veterans at a veterans hospital.
It's easy when we don't suffer low wages to perhaps lose perspective about the real need, even in our Federal workforce. And at the higher end, the more we disparage our Federal workforce, the more we make it less attractive. The more we treat them like a piggy bank, the less attractive that service will be.
We are a far, far distance from when John Kennedy called Americans to public service because he saw it, as did so many of that generation, as a noble calling.
We haven't just asked for a few hundred dollars from every Federal worker. We have attempted or succeeded in freezing their wages 3 years in a row. Another fact that my friend from California, the distinguished chairman of our committee, conveniently does not point out is that we have done more than that, and we've attempted to do more than that. We've funded the payroll tax cut with $15 billion of cuts for prospective Federal employees in the pension programs. We attempted for the first time ever--unheard of, no nexus--to fund transit in the transportation bill to the tune of $50 billion in cuts from existing pension programs, breaking an existing contract. That's a fact too. Maybe an inconvenient one.
Federal workers deserve the dignity of the work they provide. Federal workers need to be respected for serving our constituents. The losers in this debate won't just be them; it will be the people they serve.
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