The freeze would only affect civilian federal workers and would save the government $2 billion in federal spending this fiscal year and $28 billion in cumulative savings over the next five years.
As account specialist, Patricia Viers, 52 spends her days making sure the Army, Navy and Air Force get the parts needed for weapons systems being deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a union leader, Viers receives complaints and grievances from employees and works to provide them with assistance.
“I’ve worked for the government for 32 years, and I’m not getting rich off of this — I live in a condo in Columbus and drive a 2001 car,” said Viers, who earns a salary between $53,000 and $72,000. “I’m struggling along with everyone else, and now I’m the one being held back.”
Viers’ projected 2013 retirement is in question as this will affect the level at which she’ll be able to collect. At 1.4% increase, it may not be a lot to someone who makes over $200K a year, but to Patricia Viers, it makes a profound impact.
“This is going to affect everyone — from those employees in defense like intelligence analysts and mechanics strapping armor on humvees, to civilian employees like park rangers and doctors and nurses for [Veteran Affairs],” said Cory Bythrow, communications director at the National Federation of Federal Employees.
The true impact will be felt by over 2.1 million federal workers nationwide. The freeze is looking at reverb from local economies like Washington DC where 15 percent of those 2.1 million federal workers reside as well as all over the U.S.
Karen Proctor of Temple Hills, Md., a passport specialist for the State Department, said her first reaction is that she may need to look for a second job. The mother of three young children earns about $72,000 a year.
“I was shocked,” she said. “Are my expenses going to freeze for the next two years? Is my health care going to freeze for the next two years?”
President Obama made it clear that “this pay freeze does not apply to the men and women of our armed forces who, along with their families continue to bear enormous burdens with our nation at war”.