GOP Congressman: Government Needs To ‘Sacrifice’ And Lay Off More Workers

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX)

Just days after the nation’s unemployment rate hit 9.2 percent, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) said on CNBC that it’s a problem that the federal government isn’t “sacrificing” by laying off workers like the private sector. Last week’s dismal jobs report showed that the recovery has stalled and 14.1 million Americans are out of work, but Brady complained that government isn’t doing its part to “get our financial house in order” because it’s hiring workers while private companies lay them off:

BRADY: Truth is, when’s the government going to sacrifice? Everyone’s been pinching pennies, the government budgets have almost doubled the last couple years. Most companies are laying off workers, especially small businesses, the federal government’s hiring federal workers. So my question is, when is the government going to sacrifice in order to help us get our financial house in order?

Watch it:

Brady’s suggestion that the government needs to lay off more workers during a time of high unemployment is not only disturbingly out-of-touch, it’s also untrue. Last month marked the sharpest decline in state and local jobs since the 1982, and most job growth at the moment is coming from private companies.

As Matt Yglesias has documented, over 500,000 government workers have lost their jobs since January 2009. State and local government employees have been particularly hard hit: nearly 100,000 have lost their jobs so far this year, and 464,000 have found themselves jobless since September 2008. Forecasts say another 110,000 could soon lose their jobs as states begin their new fiscal years.

Federal payrolls have been mostly flat for years, even as the population has been growing. In November, President Obama announced a two-year pay freeze for 1.9 million federal workers.

According to David Leonhardt, if state and local governments had continued to hire at their previous pace, they would have added half a million jobs to the economy. In other words, government austerity over the past two years “has cost the economy about one million jobs.”

It should go without saying, but apparently doesn’t, that it’s a bad thing that some small businesses are laying off workers and the public sector should not try to emulate them. It’s also callous and ignorant to suggest that government workers aren’t shouldering their fair share of economic pain.