What's the best place to get a no-show job? The federal government. Uncle Sam pays corrupt or incompetent employees not to come to work, because it's easier than firing them, never mind the cost to taxpayers. Congress is trying to get to the bottom of this outrageous waste. So far, the Obama administration is stonewalling.
In fact, President Obama and Democrats in Congress are pushing for yet more perks and pay hikes for federal workers. But get ready for a battle, because the new Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, is vowing to slow this gravy train in its tracks.
Right now, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is pressing for answers about the $3.1 billion spent on no-show jobs in the last three years. The Department of Homeland Security has paid 88 employees to stay home for at least a year, including three who have been twiddling their thumbs for three years.
The preposterous explanation from DHS is that the allegations against these workers are so serious that they can't be allowed back to work, but not conclusive enough to fire them. The Veterans Administration also kept 46 employees on paid leave for a year or longer with explanations that Grassley calls "vague, incomplete, or incoherent."
This is all evidence that the federal bureaucracy is taking taxpayers for a ride. The corruption appears to permeate every agency; federal hiring needs to be overhauled. It's not the first time.
Back in 1883, Congress passed the Pendleton Act to replace patronage with a federal civil service where workers would be hired and paid based on merit. There is no "merit" anymore. Scramble the letters. What you have now is a "timer" system. Workers put in time and get hefty salaries and benefits, regardless of work quality and with no risk of being fired. As a result, another has replaced one kind of corruption.
These workers can't be called civil "servants" - not at their pay scale! Total compensation averaged a whopping $119,934 last year, dwarfing the $67,246 earned by the average private sector worker. More federal workers have advanced degrees that command higher wages, but that's a small factor. The biggest difference is in benefits.
Federal workers get far richer benefits - 48 percent more than what private sector workers get, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Wages for federal workers also are increasing faster than those of the private sector, but evidently not fast enough for Obama. He's announced that he will hike federal pay come January, by executive order, to go around Congress.
Ryan has better ideas - using the current budget negotiations to freeze bureaucrats' pay, downsize the workforce through attrition, and require that workers contribute more to their retirement benefits. It's no surprise that the American Federation of Government Employees gives him a zero rating.
On the other side, Obama and House Democrats are clamoring for even more benefits for federal employees - the latest is six weeks of paid parental leave. Federal workers already get up to 49 paid days off a year, including holidays, sick days and vacation time. Yet Democrats said federal workers shouldn't have to dip into those days if they have a child. Paid family leave would nearly double the number of paid days off for some workers, putting them on easy street and taxpayers on the road to serfdom.
Democrats argue that paid family leave is needed to prevent federal workers from leaving for other jobs. They must be kidding! Federal workers hardly ever quit - private sector workers are four times more likely to leave their jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And as for getting fired? A private sector worker faces five times the risk of getting canned.
No wonder the federal employees recently caught logging on to Ashley Madison - a website for marital cheaters - still have their jobs. The philanderers included two assistant U.S. Attorneys and a counterterrorism expert at DHS.
It's not just their spouses who are getting cheated. Taxpayers are, too.