ABC's Sunlen Miller reports: President Obama today proposed a a two-year freeze in civilian federal worker pay for calendar year 2011-2012. “I did not reach this decision easily,” Obama said from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, “This is not just a line-item on a federal ledger. These are people's lives.”
The freeze is expected to save $2 billion for the fiscal year 2011 and will save $28 billion when you combine the savings from this year’s freeze, and the second year freeze 2012 across the next 5 years. It is expected to save $60 billion in total over the next 10 years.
“The hard truth is that getting this deficit under control is going to require some broad sacrifice,” Obama said, “and that sacrifice must be shared by the employees of the federal government.” The president noted that this freeze does not apply to military personnel. “In these challenging times, we want the best and brightest to join and make a difference. But these are also times where all of us are called on to make some sacrifices. And I'm asking civil servants to do what they've always done: play their part.” The president said that going forward additional “tough decisions” will have to be made to tackle the nation’s soaring deficit. “Just as families and businesses around the nation have tightened their belts in this economy so must the government, “White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said on a conference call with reporters previewing the announcement. The announcement only affects civilians; it does not affect military personnel. The freeze is expected to save $2 billion for the fiscal year 2011 and will save $28 billion when you combine the savings from this year’s freeze, and the second year freeze 2012 across the next 5 years. It is expected to save $60 billion in total over the next 10 years. “Clearly this is a difficult decision,” US Chief Performance Officer and OMB Deputy Director for Management Jeffrey Zients said, “Federal employees are hard working and dedicated, and central to delivering essential services to the American people and today we are, the president is, clearly asking them to make a sacrifice.” Administration officials painted this move as essential to help put the nation back on sound fiscal footing, and the first of “many actions,” that they will take to tackle the deficit. “Ultimately addressing the deficits will take tough decisions and sacrifices by all of us,” Zients said. The president’s proposal today does require congressional approval. Administration officials said that they hope this freeze does not get in the way of having the best and brightest workers drawn to work for the federal government, now with a less attractive pay and benefits package. “We do need to continue to recruit the best and the brightest to federal service,” Zients said, “I am confident that we have an overall value proposition for employment that is quite strong and a lot of people do want to serve and that this freeze will not get in the way of our efforts to bring in the best and the brightest.” Administration official disputed that the timing of the announcement today was due to the president’s bipartisan deficit commission due to make their own deficit reduction report later this week. “The timing is driven by a legal requirement for the president to submit to the hill,” Zients said,” and also by where we are in the budget process, we are at the point at annual we decide what pay will be as part of the budget. So that’s the driver of the timing here.” Upon taking office in 2009 President Obama froze the salaries of senior White House officials and this year he proposed freezing salaries of all political appointees across the government. -Sunlen Miller