Today President Obama formally called for a two-year pay freeze for civilian federal workers. So much for socialism, eh? The White House is characterizing the move as part of a ‘broad sacrifice’ that seeks to help restore the fiscal and economic health of the country.
“The hard truth is that getting this deficit under control is going to require some broad sacrifice, and that sacrifice must be shared by employees of the federal government,” Mr. Obama told reporters. He called federal workers “patriots who love their country” but added, “I’m asking civil servants to do what they’ve always done” for the nation.
White House officials insist that the freeze will not apply to military personnel, but will affect all civilian federal employees, including workers at the Department of Defense. They’re saying the freeze should save more than $5 billion over two years, $28 billion over five years, and more than $60 billion over 10 years. Don’t get me wrong — that’s a lot of cashish, but it’s a mere drop in the deep sea that is our $1 trillion-plus federal budget deficit.
Keep in mind, this was a call for a freeze, not an executive order. Federal pay is determined by Congress, and lawmakers still have to approve. Given the mood of the nation, any guess how that will turn out? Is Obama’s move here strategic? Sound and sincere? A symbolic gesture? Completely unreasonable? As with everything, it depends entirely on your point of view.