Obama estimated the pay freeze would save Washington $2 billion for the rest of the fiscal year and $28 billion over the next five years.
The president said, “The hard truth is that getting this deficit under control is going to require broad sacrifice. 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.”
Obama pointed out that he had frozen all pay raises for his senior staff on the day he assumed office as president. He has proposed extending the salary increase freeze this year for senior political appointees and removing bonuses for all political appointees.
He acknowledged it was not easy to make the decision to freeze pay hikes because the move would impact people’s lives, including medical workers who take care of the veterans, border guards, social security employees and millions of federal workers.
Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, and John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, criticized Obama’s decision. Kelley said the union would work with Congress to overturn the policy, while Gage said the move is Washington’s panic reaction to the deficit commission report.
Aside from the pay freeze, Obama said he made a line-by-line review of the budget and announced a plan to sell $8 billion in unneeded federal land and buildings. He also proposed a three-year freeze on all non-security discretionary spending in a bid to bring spending to its lowest level in 50 years.
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