“President Obama today proposed a two-year freeze in civilian pay for federal employees that the White House says will save $2 billion in fiscal year 2011 and more than $60 billion over the next decade.
“The hard truth is getting this budget under control is going to require some broad sacrifice, and that sacrifice must be shared by employees of the federal government,” he said, adding that he “did not reach this decision easily.”
The freeze will apply to all civilian federal employees — including, as the White House noted, doctors who care for wounded veterans, national parks workers, Department of Defense employees and other federal workers — but not military personnel….
American Federation of Government Employees president John Gage told the Associated Press that the move was “a slap at working people.” He suggested federal employees were being made into scapegoats….
Republicans have called for federal pay freezes (and even brief furloughs for federal workers), and the bipartisan federal deficit commission is expected to call for a pay freeze when it releases its recommendations this week. (A proposal from the commission chairmen called for a three-year freeze.)”
The pay freeze would have to be approved by Congress, but with Republicans now in control of the House, I doubt that’s going to be a problem. And while the White House would probably deny it, it’s pretty obvious that Obama’s move is a direct response to the midterm results.
That said, it’s also the right thing to do. Most Americans are feeling the pinch in one way or another, from losing their jobs and homes to going without pay raises or even taking unpaid leave. That includes employees in state and local government. Voters and taxpayers shouldn’t have the sense that federal employees are somehow immune to the pain felt by the rest of the country; it feeds a resentment already close to the boiling point.