Are Federal Employees Paid Too Much ... or Too Little?

Are taxpayers "footing the bill for these federal employees while watching their own salaries remain flat and their benefits erode," as Florida representative Dennis Ross stated in discussion over a Republican call to get federal employee pay in line with private-sector pay? Or are they, as Democrats and the families of government workers themselves insist, underpaid compared to their private-sector equivalents?

The answer is, they're both right, although any demands to get federal employee pay commensurate with private pay will cost taxpayers, not save them. The AP's FACT CHECK explains it like this: Government employee salaries, on average, are indeed higher than private sector paychecks. The Federal Office of Personnel Management says the average federal worker makes $101,628 in total compensation, including benefits and pension costs, compared to $60,000 for the average private employee.