The U.S. House Appropriations Committee continues to restore pork to President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget, recently voting to restore a second National Tsunami Warning System Center to save 40 federal government jobs.
In keeping with the Republican Congress’s pledge during Democrat Barack Obama’s presidency that a Republican president would slash discretionary spending to make the federal government smaller, President Trump submitted a 2018 budget in May that through “Major Savings and Reforms” cut “$57.3 billion in discretionary programs, including $26.7 billion in program eliminations and $30.6 billion in reductions.”
The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) described the president’s 2018 Budget in a detailed 159-page analysis as a common-sense “set of discretionary and mandatory savings proposals that bring Federal spending under control and return the Federal budget to balance within 10 years.” OMB emphasized that it was the proper role of the federal government to “curtail programs that fall short on results or provide little return to the American people.”
The Trump 2018 budget proposed cutting about 160 categories of federal discretionary spending, including the termination of $262 million from “National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Grants and Education.” The Trump administration stated that the NOAA programs were low priority and inconsistent with implementing “the President’s charge to create a leaner, more accountable, less intrusive, and more effective Government.”
But as Breitbart News reported recently in “Congress Fights Trump Earthquake Warning Privatization to Keep Fed Jobs,” Republicans seem to have become increasingly bipartisan in trying to restore discretionary spending when it comes to federal jobs.
According to the National Tsunami Warning Center (NTWC) website, the center located at 910 S. Felton St., Palmer, Alaska, was established in 1967. The NTWC is tasked with providing timely and accurate tsunami and off-shore earthquake bulletins for an area of responsibility including the ocean coasts of all U.S. States, Canadian coastal regions, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
The NTWC monitoring system is highly automated through a large number of Dart II moored floating buoys that communicate through acoustic transducers with tsunameters on the ocean floor. Data is uploaded through satellite links to the NTWC computers in Alaska.
But NOAA also operates a Pacific Tsunami Warning Center located at 91-270 Fort Weaver Rd, Ewa Beach, Hawaii. The PTWC was established in 1947 as the first U.S. tsunami warning center, but its current areas of responsibility have been downsized in the last two decades to only Hawaii and the South China Sea.
Trump’s proposed 2018 Budget would close the PTWC to reduce NTWC total staffing from 55 to 15, to save $12 million annually. Given its almost complete automation, staff reductions would still provide a minimum of two staff tsunami monitors 24-hours per day.
According to a recent “Downsizing the Federal Government” study, annual federal civilian compensation costs per worker average $123,160, or 76 percent more than the average of $69,901 private-sector compensation costs per worker. Civilian federal workers earn average wages of $86,365 and benefits of $36,795, whereas the 112 million private-sector workers earn average wages of $58,726 and $11,175 in benefits.
Federal employee unions have argued that government needs a high-end workforce. But the federal workforce has always been heavily populated by supposedly skilled professionals, such as lawyers.
The downsizing report comments that federal compensation premiums over private-sector wages have grown faster has in recent decades. Compared to private-sector compensation, federal wages were 39 percent higher in 1990, 50 percent higher by 2000, and then 76 percent higher by 2015.