Obama unveils two-year plan to halt raises and rein in deficit
Staff and Wire Reports
Created: 11/29/2010 09:27:27 PM PST

President Barack Obama has announced a two-year pay freeze for federal employees on Monday, saying the step is necessary to help bring the federal deficit under control.

The wage freeze, which applies to all civilian federal employees but excludes military personnel, would save $5 billion over two years and $28 billion over the next five years, the White House said.

“The hard truth is that getting this deficit under control is going to require broad sacrifice,” Obama said. “And that sacrifice must be shared by the employees of the federal government. After all, small businesses and families are tightening their belts. Their government should, too.”

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

“This proposal is a superficial panic reaction to the draconian cuts his deficit commission will recommend,” Gage said.

“A federal pay freeze saves peanuts at best and, while he may mean it as just a public relations gesture, this is no time for political scapegoating. The American people didn’t vote to stick it to a VA nursing assistant making $28,000 a year or a border patrol agent earning $34,000 per year.”

The chairmen of Obama’s bipartisan deficit commission 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 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.

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