The Wealthy Voters The Left Won’t Talk About

The debate over how to cut the costs of federal spending continues to roll along at a fever pitch in this year’s presidential debate. The plans for any of the candidates cost money, whether you want to implement ObamaCare or if you want to pay the up-front costs of Paul Ryan’s Social Security and Medicare reforms and move those systems into the 21st century. In light of all this, is it really fair that government employees pull down an average six-figure income? I don’t think so.

In well-off D.C. suburbs like Arlington, no one lives better than government employees

According the Cato Institute, the average federal employee makes $119,000 in annual salary & benefits. Even allowing the higher cost of living around the Beltway that’s an obscene figure, given that government work is not harder or more productive than the private sector—the average in this same area being $60,000. And in saying government work is “not harder or more productive” I think I’m being extremely kind.

This is all a direct consequence of the power that comes from the unionization of government employees and why even those of us who are sympathetic to private sector unions have to draw the line when it comes to the public sector. A labor union in private industry has to work with management to ensure the company can continue to exist. A government union need only apply enough pressure for tax dollars to keep themselves afloat.

Thus you end up with the vicious circle of government unions backing left-wing politicians, who in turn repay the union through rising salaries—even if that means taking money from worthy causes, be it active spending or debt reduction.

It’s a sad irony that the political Left today has the protection of $100,000-plus employees  as its priority above all priorities, while private sector counterparts are laid off and their jobs shipped overseas. Somewhere, the original labor leaders of the early 20th century are weeping.

Dan Flaherty is the author of Fulcrum, an Irish Catholic novel set in postwar Boston with a traditional Democratic mayoral campaign at its heart, and he is the editor-in-chief of



  • Mary

    These responses demonstrate a lack of understanding of who the wealthy are and what effect taxing wealth has on everyone. Example. In my town there was a printing press owned for over 50 years by the aging founder. Unable to transfer the wealth to the next generation without incurring crippling taxes which would have required new debt to pay, the owners sold to a conglomerate. The conglomerate went into the downturn saddled with debt which kept them from being sufficiently competitive, they lost business, and finally they defaulted recently, closing the plant entirely. All jobs were lost. What happened to that wealth? It vanished, unable to be sustained by the less involved and more debt burdened conglomerate and now it is gone. And the jobs along with it. Why doesn’t this country make anything anymore? For reasons like that.

  • Frederick

    Of course there are wealthy donors in both parties. The difference is that the Democrats are fighting for equitable income tax rates that treat all Americans fairly. The Republicans are fighting for tax rates that benefit the wealthy and shift the tax burden to the the middle class and poor. Paul Ryan’s budget would mean that rich people like Mitt Romney would pay 0.86% tax rate, while others burden far greater tax rates. This just isn’t fair by any stretch of the imagination. Drastic tax cuts for the wealthy come at the expense of our children’s future.

  • Steve Skojec

    I have to say, I find this data somewhat suspect. First, they’re incorporating benefits into the amount these people are being paid and then comparing it to a $60,000 salary (sans benefits.) Obviously, adding benefits back in could be a 30% (or more) increase on base pay.

    Secondly, I live in Northern Virginia, just outside the Beltway. The average household income here, taken across all sectors, is in the $105,000 – $110,000 range. When you factor in the increased cost of living here, that’s not remotely outrageous. It’s break even. To rent a 4 bedroom home that would accommodate a large Catholic family, even 30 miles outside of DC, is easily $2000 – $3000 a month. The D.C. area median (not average) home prices range from about $360K in DC proper (which are probably small townhomes) to $575K in Falls Church, about 10 miles outside DC in Virginia, but still inside the beltway. Mortgages here don’t come cheaply, even if you want to live modestly.

    We’re now considered to have the worst traffic congestion in the country, and our public transit options are more expensive all the time. You can easily drop $400 – $500 a month on transit, not including the gas it takes you to get to a train or metro station, and parking fees besides.

    Finally, from job postings I’ve seen, even GS-15 employees (which is near the top of the federal heap) only make $120,000 or so. Typically, these people are attorneys or high-level administrators who would likely earn more in the private sector, not less.

    I’m not saying there aren’t too many government jobs. I’m not saying that a number of government jobs aren’t overpaid. I’m the first in line to say that the government wastes a lot of money. But when you get into the nuances and fine detail of things, I don’t think the picture is as clear cut as this makes it sound.

  • Michael

    Did you actually read the article you posted? Or just found the one statistic that fits your argument? Notice how the Cato report only is so eye-catching if you include government contractors. Now, who signed up all those government contractors for Iraq and Afghanistan? The radical left, that’s who!

  • Good Golly Miss Molly

    The wealth of the few is even more obscene from a historically comparative perspective. Only 25 years ago, the top 1 percent of the nation controlled 12 percent of the nation’s wealth. Those federal workers you castigate as being supposedly filthy rich aren’t even in the top twenty percent of the wealthiest people in the US. And the top 20 percent of Americans control 84 percent of the wealth And it’s clear that income disparity has widened in recent years as shown in this chart:
    According to the CIA’s World Factbook, only 38 of 136 countries grouped together based on comparable economic indicators have a less equitable distribution of wealth than the US.

  • Propaganda All is Phoney

    As “wealthy” as you think they are earning over $100,000 including benefits, they still are nowhere close to being as obscene as the one percent who control 42% of the financial wealth in this country. And your statement that “the left” has as it’s number one priority the protection of the “wealth” of a small segment of the unionized workforce is absurdist propaganda. But yes, labor leaders of the past are weeping . . . because of all the assaults against organized labor initiated and which continue to be instigated by Republicans like yourself.



Receive our updates via email.