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Reason Foundation

Obama's Plans to Expand Federal Bureaucracy Could Bring $1 Trillion Price Tag

Leonard Gilroy
May 27, 2009, 5:34pm

Americans for Tax Reform has released an eye-opening analysis of the implications of President Obama's plans to dramatically expand the federal workforce by several hundred thousand employees, finding that it will effectively impose a whopping $1 trillion in taxpayer costs over the next several decades (emphasis added):

President Obama's budget calls for hiring "several hundred thousand" federal employees over the next four years to replace retiring Baby Boomer bureaucrats, and to expand the federal workforce.

How much will it cost taxpayers to hire each of these employees over a working career? The range is between $2.02 million for the cheapest employee (GS-1), and $11.3 million for the most expensive employee (GS-15). An employee in the middle of the federal pay scale (GS-8) will cost $4.27 million.

Let's assume the middle, GS-8 cost of $4.27 million per employee is the representative one. If Obama plans to replace or hire 250,000 federal employees, that obligates the taxpayer to the tune of over $1 trillion. This is during the same forty-year period where taxpayers will be on the hook to pay for the unfunded obligations of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid (not to mention the national debt).

Candidates running for President in 2008 called for a slow attrition of the federal workforce that this Baby Boomer retirement presents as an opportunity. Unfortunately for taxpayers, Obama is squandering this once in a lifetime chance to transform the bloated federal bureaucracy into a lean and accountable civil service.

The full analysis, including assumptions used in the calculations, are available here. For more on the President's plans to de-privatize and expand the federal bureaucracy, see here and here.


Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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