The 17 Democrats, led by House Oversight Committee ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), said that proposal is unacceptable.
“Federal workers have already made significant sacrifices to help reduce our government’s budget deficit,” the letter states. “Subjecting these dedicated public servants to additional pay cuts and retirement benefit reductions in order to pay for such expenditures as a payroll tax cut for all middle class Americans is unfair and illogical.”
The letter came on the same day that the Oversight Committee's federal workforce subcommittee held a hearing on possible reforms to the federal pension system.
At the hearing, Chuck Grimes, the Obama administration official in charge of operations at the Office of Personnel Management, noted that as part of a comprehensive deficit-reduction plan, President Obama backs a 1.2 percentage point increase in retirement contributions.
Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute argued that doing away with the defined benefit portion of the federal retirement system would not hurt the government’s ability to fill positions since the thrift savings plan offered by the government is still more generous than the private sector.
Federal worker unions fought back.
“Freezing the pay and increasing the pension contributions for middle class federal workers across the country while continuing to protect the income and benefits of the most affluent members of our society defeats the purpose of the stimulus” generated by a payroll tax holiday,” said National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley.