The Furlough Plan That Shook D.C.

Coffman's plan could help cut deficit

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Shhh... can you hear that?  Those mumbles and grumbles filtering out across Washington followed by fist-shaking and the word, "Coffmannnnnn..."?

They're probably coming from federal workers in the District, Maryland and Virginia who aren't too happy with Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman, who introduced a plan this week that includes a two-week furlough for federal civilian employees in 2012.

Why the grumbling?  Well, the federal government is, after all, the largest employer in the D.C. area.

The Republican's plan also would reduce Congressional members’ salaries by 10 percent, earning him few friends at the Capitol.  But, Coffman said, an exception is provided in the bill for national security or reasons relating to public health or safety, including law enforcement.

Coffman, who introduced a similar bill in September, noted that numerous states have taken measures to help cut the budget, so why not the Feds?

“Furloughs are becoming commonplace for state and local governments, and it’s only reasonable for the federal government to follow suit,” Coffman said.  “I want to make the U.S. government as cost conscious as the states. At least 24 states have enacted similar budget-cutting measures, while the federal government continues to grow and rack up debt.”

While some applauded Coffman's efforts, at least one person who responded to his plan via his Facebook page wasn't too happy with the bill:  "Well I guess you can make our house and car payment since my wife is one of those awful Federal Workers. Well so are YOU, Mike. How about cutting CONGRESSIONAL PERKS and all the waste that is already in Congress? ... And most of wife's co-workers are conservative Republicans. Don't punish your supporters just because they are +{{{{SHRIEK}}}} Federal Workers."

Meanwhile, at the Federal Times website, one comment said: "Where is this perception that Federal employees are living extravagent lifestyles with their exhorbitant pay? I live a modest life and have decent benefits, but I'm not making near the salary of my contractor counterparts, who make on average $10-20K more than I do with far LESS responsibility! We've blown so much money on the bank bailouts and countless other programs that are far more costly and wasteful."

Coffman believes the measure would save taxpayers $5.5 billion. 

But his plan doesn't go as far as that of Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), who wants to cut the federal workforce by 10 percent in the next decade.

Get ready to hear a lot more grumbling from your federal government-employed friends and family as the bills get more attention.

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