Wisconsin Spotlight | July 24, 2020
MADISON — U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson ended the hasty attempt by liberals and their go-along-to-get-along Republican pals to give federal employees yet another paid federal holiday.
Johnson has been clear: He’s not against federal recognition of Juneteenth, celebrating the end of slavery in the United States; he just doesn’t want taxpayers on the hook for an 11th federal holiday.
The left was apoplectic about the Oshkosh Republican’s objection to the Senate’s attempt to pass the measure on “unanimous consent,” without closer examination, debate, or even an on-the-record vote. His objection halted the immediate passage of the bill. He proposed an amendment that would replace another federal holiday with Juneteenth, which Johnson says would save taxpayers some $600 million a year.
The original bill, introduced by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), had garnered the support of 54 cosponsors looking to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. The bill appears dead — for now.
Johnson’s opposition exposed a fact that should be abundantly clear: The federal government is massive and its approximately 2.1 million employees get a lot of perks paid for by the American taxpayer.
The senator pointed out that federal employees not only receive 10 paid holidays per year, they receive generous paid leave though other benefits — such as sick leave, vacation and paid parental leave.
“Federal employees who take advantage of all the paid days off to which they’re entitled can see a paid day off for every 1.4 days they work,” Johnson said in a press release.
Even for federal workers who don’t take advantage of paid parental leave, the ratio can be a paid day off for every 4.3 days.
In 2019 wages and benefits for executive branch civilian workers cost $291 billion, according to Downsizing the Federal Government, a project of the Cato Institute.
There has long been a compensation gulf between federal employees and private-sector workers. In 2018, federal civilian employees pulled in an average wage of $94,463 compared to $63,306 for the nation’s 118 private-sector work force, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
“The federal government has become an elite island of secure and high-paid employment separated from the ocean of average Americans competing in the economy,” writes Chris Edwards for Downsizing the Federal Government.