Let the average American taxpayer, who sees the federal government take about one-fifth of his income every year, ponder the following.

A federal commission chaired by Lloyd Cutler, a former top aide to President Jimmy Carter, is about to urge a substantial hike in pay for members of Congress and other government employees. It is expected to cite the recommendations of Washington-establishment veterans such as former Reagan chief of staff Howard Baker, who has urged that all federal salaries "be automatically and annually adjusted for inflation."

A few days after Baker's statement to the commission, the Census Bureau released its latest detailed study of per-capita income in U.S. cities and counties. It reported that of the six wealthiest counties in the nation, five are suburbs of Washington, heavily populated by federal employees.