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Citing Deficit, Obama Freezing Federal Worker Pay

Citing Deficit, Obama Freezing Federal Worker Pay

President Barack Obama delivers a statement to members of the media in the Old Executive Office Building, on the White House campus in Washington, Monday, Nov. 29, 2010.

Associated Press

November 29, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama on Monday called for freezing the pay of 2 million federal employees, saying the move is the first of many difficult decisions that must be made to slash the nation’s mounting deficits.

“The hard truth is that getting this deficit under control is going to require some broad sacrifice, and that sacrifice must be shared by the employees of the federal government,” Obama said.

The two-year freeze would apply to all civilian federal employees, including those working at the Department of Defense, but would not affect military personnel. The freeze is expected to save more than $5 billion in savings over two years, $28 billion over five years and more than $60 billion over 10 years, White House officials said.

Federal pay is determined by Congress, and lawmakers must approve Obama’s call for a freeze.

Congress is not covered by Obama’s order, but lawmakers voted last April to freeze their pay, with the House and Senate opting to forgo an automatic $1,600 annual cost-of-living increase. House members and senators now are paid $174,000 a year. Their last pay increase was $4,700 a year at beginning of 2009.

The president’s pay of $400,000 a year was fixed by Congress in January 2001. It has not changed since then.

While Obama said the federal employee salary freeze was necessary to put the nation on sound fiscal footing, he also said that he didn’t reach the decision lightly.

“This is not just a line item on a federal ledger,” he said. “These are people’s lives.”

The savings from the pay freeze make only a small dent in the nation’s $1 trillion-plus budget deficit. But with voters voicing their anger over Washington’s spending during the midterm elections, even a symbolic gesture would show the White House got the message.

Obama and bipartisan congressional leaders will meet at the White House Tuesday for the first time since Republicans gained control of the House and increased their strength in the Senate during the midterm elections. Obama said he hopes the move to freeze federal pay sets a serious tone for the meetings.

“We’re going to have to budge on some deeply held positions, and compromise for the good of the country,” Obama said.

California Rep. Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, said that while the pay freeze was “long overdue,” the president and congressional leaders should take additional steps to reduce spending, including imposing a federal hiring freeze of non-security employees.

The co-chairmen of Obama’s bipartisan deficit commission have proposed a three-year freeze in pay for most federal employees as part of its plan to reduce the nation’s growing deficit. The commission’s proposal also suggested cuts to Social Security benefits and higher taxes for millions of Americans to stem the flood of red ink that they say threatens the nation’s very future. The popular child tax credit and mortgage interest deduction also would be eliminated.

The commission’s final report is due to be released later this week.

Shortly after taking office in January 2009, Obama froze salaries of top White House aides. He proposed extending that freeze to political appointees across the government in last year’s budget, and also eliminated bonuses for political appointees.

The pay freeze would not affect bonuses or step increases for federal employees.

Labor leaders assailed Obama’s decision as bad for the economy and the middle class.

“We need to invest in creating jobs, not undermining the ones we have,” AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said in a statement.

John Gage, president of the 600,000-member American Federation of Government Employees, called the decision “a slap at working people.”

“Working people’s wages are not the issue with this deficit or what is going on in our country,” Gage said. “To symbolically hit at federal employees I think is just wrong.”

Gage said the White House was using federal workers as scapegoats for the nation’s deficit problems. He said the move would not really save as much as the White House claims because federal employees often get just a fraction of projected raises. Federal workers received a 1.9 percent pay increase this year.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago

    Cut, prison cost, welfare costs, aid to other nations, the U.S should promote the buy American mentality and cut illegal alien aid.

  • Izz6lcazmu9idcahcf6vcca3haswkca8ym4ibcaxsoxaaca5w2r37ca2ale9xcau90kp1cax4ardlcaaaarsvca9p87recaza11wzcalj0o2jcai9xmy0cavtb94ocaji2q4jcaig9kkxca1a29hpcaw8fccg_max50


    over 3 years ago


    2012!!!!!!!!!! Hope we have a country left by that time. Obama SUX!!!!!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago

    bmorgan's comment about the $250,00 level is eerily appropriate, remeber originally the 'rich' were defined as those making more that $150,000 and tax the rich was the mantra, I bet congress realized that they were in the 'rich' catagory them so raised the limit to $250,000, what a surprise. Most non-governmental workers have had no raies for 2 years, but government employees have kept getting them, so i appauld Obama for doing this.

  • Th_detective_max50


    over 3 years ago


    BOHICA............(Bend Over, Here It Comes Again!)

  • Scan0006_max50


    over 3 years ago



    "HOPE" and "CHANGE" I can only HOPE for 2012 to come sooner to see this "CHANGE" you must be talking about!

    Simple fact: You can't bail companies out at tax payer expense without someone else having to take the hit.

    The voters brought us a communist/socialist. Hurry up 2012!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    We are in so much trouble........

    So many other areas need to be cut first before you attack the wages. Why does it seem that when American's have to give a little to help all, the cuts never affect all the countries that live off our welfare? And I don't just mean our social welfare for people to lazy to work in this country, I'm talking about the billions of dollars our governemt sends out to help other countries.

    If we can't help ourselves, why are we arrogantly "helping" others?

  • Policelinkbadge_max160_max50_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Hurry 2012.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    Just wait until January when the "new" taxes hit us all below the belt.

  • Radio2_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Question... Why can't the President take a pay cut?? He makes $400,000 a year. If he is going to freeze the pay and make others take pay cuts then why can't he give himself a pay cut?

  • In_remembrance_of_oakland_pd_max50_max50_max50_max50_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Some of our government in action, we will be lucky to survive the next two years until he can be replaced.

  • Thinker_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Yes, freeze Federal civilian salaries except for Postal Employees so you can continue "extending" unemployment benefits for those who have no intention or motivation to go look for work. Wouldn't want to piss of those postal workers for they might go POSTAL. State and municipalities will be next, be guaranteed of that...

  • 1051193310_l_max50


    over 3 years ago


    How about he stop vacationing and repeal Nobamma Care?

  • My_kids_027_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Of course congress is not covered by this order and I would be willing to bet that the Presidents travel funds and pay have not been affected by this. Bluebrother I really like your standing on the In God We Trust. It should be obvious that when the government starting taking God out of everything it all started to crumble and the country is in pittiful shape. Put God first and everything else will fall in place.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    And so it starts, I am surprise it started with the Feds and not local municipalities. Stop spending all our money overseas, stop letting our imports exceed our exports, get America producing American products. Cut off the foreign oil crap, start using our own resource that really does exists despite the government lies, put pride back in our country, and the only way for America to really be America is for America to live with the "In God We Trust" attitude. Fill up the churches our forefathers lived and died for. Ground Zero should never have happened (truths concealed leave lies revealed) and no Mosque needs to be built on hallowed ground still splattered with the blood of innocent lives lost on 9-11. America doesn't have to be taken by force, only by economic weakness. And who inflicted our economy with the virus of visionary loss? not the everyday citizen but the powers to be, clean out the house and the senate and start over with the seats filled by someone who knows what the hell is going on and that is you and I, the real true Americans, the ones who inch out a living everyday for our families. The ones who are loosing their jobs everyday, their pensions and retirement benefits everyday, their health plans everyday, and now their salary everyday if they are fortunate enough to still have one.

  • Joefriday_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Anyone notice how the story feeds have gone way down in quantity and quality since members can no longer submit stoires to police link?

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