Trump cuts raises for federal workers while bragging about 'booming' economy

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The White House has informed Congress that Trump will scale back pay raises for federal workers next year to just 1%.

The White House informed Congress on Monday that Donald Trump would use his authority to scale back pay raises for federal workers next year from 2.5% to just 1%.

Officials cited Trump's authority to do so in cases of "national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare."

"We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course; Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases," the White House wrote. "... For 2021 the across-the-board base pay increase will be limited to 1.0 percent and locality pay percentages will remain at their 2020 levels. This alternative pay plan decision will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well‑qualified Federal workforce."

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The letter stands in stark contrast with Trump's repeated boasts about the U.S. economy.

"BEST USA ECONOMY IN HISTORY!" Trump tweeted Tuesday, one day after the White House letter was sent to Congress.

On Sunday, Trump retweeted a post from his campaign that claimed the economy "is BOOMING."

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the contradiction.

Analysis from the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates the Trump administration has added trillions to the national debt, due in no small part to the 2017 GOP tax bill. That law alone will add billions to the deficit, with most of the changes designed to benefit corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

The group estimates that the tax law, combined with other legislation Trump has signed since taking office, will likely send the national debt soaring above $4.1 trillion.

Federal workers have been hit before under Trump. In late 2018 and early 2019, he instigated a 35-day partial government shutdown which prevented hundreds of thousands of federal workers from getting paid just before the holiday season.

During the shutdown, 1 in 4 federal workers had to turn to food banks in order to feed themselves and their families. More than 1 in 4 missed a mortgage or rent payment, and 42% were forced to take on additional debt to endure the shutdown.

One top Trump adviser dismissed those issues at the time, saying federal workers may have been "better off" because of the shutdown.

"A huge share of government workers were going to take vacation days, say between Christmas and New Year's. And then we have a shutdown, and so they can’t go to work. So then they have the vacation, but they don't have to use their vacation days," said Kevin Hassett, chair of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers.

By contrast, while federal workers were furloughed, Trump spent $50,000 of his own money on a digital golf toy installed in the White House.

Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) criticized the White House's decision to freeze pay raises this week, saying Trump appeared to be "talking out of both sides of his mouth."

"President Trump has done a great job of taking credit for Barack Obama's economy, but when it comes to giving federal workers the raise they deserve, he cites, 'serious economic conditions,'" she said in an email. "Rather than give massive tax breaks to the top 1% and big corporations, we should pay the people who make America work a fair wage."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.