EDITORIAL: Public-sector millionaires

Government bureaucrats are bankrupting the country

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Fat cats with big salaries are once again the enemy of the left. At the local, state, federal and even international level, liberal politicians are clamoring for new levies on the selfish few living it up on easy street. Left unsaid is that many of those well-heeled plutocrats are pulling down a public salary.

Lavish governmental payrolls and gold-plated retirement packages are straining finances from coast to coast. California’s budget is $16 billion in the red, and Gov. Jerry Brown this week began begging Golden State voters to approve a ballot measure empowering him to raise $9 billion by increasing the state sales tax to 7.5 percent and imposing a tax on “millionaires” - defined as those who earn more than $250,000. President Obama’s own Buffett tax on “millionaires” would kick in at the same amount.

Earlier this year, the city of Long Beach, N.Y., had to borrow money so it could mint a new pair of “millionaires.” A police lieutenant who was about to retire pocketed a $572,863 payment, and a departing sergeant welcomed an addition of $521,461 to his bank account. That’s big money for a small city, the equivalent of each and every household writing a $75 check for the cops’ retirement.

As bad as the municipal system can be, the federal gravy train runs far deeper. According to a database of federal salaries compiled by the Asbury Park Press, the Department of Veterans Affairs pays its top employee $398,322. Another 800 employees earn a base salary of $300,000 or more. A grand total of 3,797 department employees qualify for the “millionaire’s” salary of $250,000. The Department of Health and Human Services has 182 “millionaires.”

Even salaries that don’t quite reach the millionaire level remain quite generous. At the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., 135 make more than the $223,500 paid to the speaker of the House, the top legislative-branch salary. A total of 798 Treasury Department staffers pulled in more than a congressman’s salary of $174,000. At the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, 559 out of 665 employees were paid more than $100,000.

Hundreds of bureaucrats who don’t have the fancy base salaries can still find themselves invited to the taxpayer-funded country club through massive bonuses ranging from $20,000 to $63,000 added on top of salaries of at least $160,000. When working for Uncle Sam, there is no economic downturn.

When the pay isn’t so great, public-service employees still can live like millionaires by jetting to exotic locales on the taxpayer dime. Four bureaucrats paid between $83,000 and $146,000 are stationed in Burkina Faso. A pair of six-figure-salaried Peace Corps employees can be found in Fiji. Twenty-five paper pushers enjoy the skiing in Switzerland, courtesy of the U.S. public. Federal gigs are available on resort islands including Aruba, Bermuda, Bahamas, Barbados and Jamaica.

The same people taking advantage of these perks are calling for taxes on the rich. California’s millionaire-tax initiative is almost entirely bankrolled by public-sector labor unions. Government unions also are among Mr. Obama’s top supporters. They realize hardworking Americans need to pay more in taxes so bureaucrats can continue to live like millionaires.

The Washington Times

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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