Bowing to growing budget concerns and months of Republican political pressure on federal pay and benefits, President Obama today announced he would stop pay increases for most of the two million people who work for the federal government.
The freeze applies to all Executive Branch workers -- including civilian employees of the Defense Department, but does not apply to military personnel, government contractors, postal workers, members of Congress, Congressional staffers, or federal court judges and workers.
"Getting this deficit under control is going to require some broad sacrifices and that sacrifice must be shared by the employees of the federal government," Obama said in a speech Monday afternoon explaining the decision. He added, "I did not reach this decision easily, this is not a line item on a federal ledger, these are people's lives."
While this is an important first step, this is not a particularly huge step towards solvency:
The decision will save the government about $2 billion for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 and $28 billion over the next five years, the White House said. The long-term savings come from lowering the government's base compensation over the next two years.
This has been well-received bu both sides of the political spectrum. Although, some are complaining that the military wasn't included in the freeze:
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), whose district is home to thousands of federal workers, said he was pleased Obama instituted only a two-year freeze instead of the three years proposed by the Bipartisan Deficit Commission. But Obama also should have cut pay for some military personnel, Hoyer said in a statement.
"There has been parity between civilian and military pay raises for 22 of the past 28 years in which raises were authorized, and hundreds of thousands of federal civilian employees work alongside military employees in the Department of Defense and other agencies," Hoyer said, noting that the first American casualty in the Afghanistan conflict was a civilian CIA agent.
Hoyer is just posturing here. There isn't any good chance for a freeze on military wages, too, for hood reason. Those in the military don't make even close to the amount that those working in DC do.