NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- President Barack Obama's proposed 2-year pay freeze for federal workers is not a good idea, according to the majority of

TheStreet

readers who voted in our

poll.

Early last week, the Obama administration proposed the two-year pay freeze for federal employees in an effort to reduce the deficit facing the U.S.

"The hard truth is that getting this deficit under control is going to require some broad sacrifice, and that sacrifice must be shared by the employees of the federal government," President Obama said.

The Obama administration said it intends to freeze pay for all civilian federal workers, including Department of Defense employees.

The salary freeze would not apply to military personnel but to all civilian employees on the federal payroll roster.

Congress must first approve the proposal for it to take effect.

We asked

TheStreet

readers if they thought Congress should approve the 2-year pay freeze.

>>Is 2-Year Federal Pay Freeze a Good Idea?

A total of 53.9% of the 1,052 voters said that no, Congress should not approve the temporary pay freeze, while 46.1% voted yes, agreeing the pay freeze is a good idea.

The pay freeze should result in savings of upwards of $5 billion in federal spending over the proposed two-year period, $28 billion over the next five years, and more than $60 billion over 10 years, according to estimates by Jeffrey Zients, deputy director of the Office for Management and Budget.

Five billion dollars is a mere slice of the $1.3 trillion budget deficit, but the message the pay freeze sends to Americans could signal the White House is responding to criticism from Republicans accusing the president and the Democratic party of overspending, including an $814 billion stimulus package and healthcare reform.

Obama has countered that the deficit was largely left over from the policies of President George W. Bush, who led the U.S. into two largely-unpaid-for wars and instituted

unbudgeted 10-year tax cuts.

"We're going to have to budge on some deeply held positions and compromise for the good of the country," the president said.

Readers spoke out in a lively debate on

TheStreet.com

.

EconIndy

argued that President Obama "is showing great leadership. When things are tough you have to make the hard decisions to get things back on course." The reader went on to say that much of corporate America instituted pay freezes and salary reductions as a means of navigating the economic downturn, options EconIndy prefers to being laid off.

Scorpio1537

countered that "corporate America as I recall was bailed out and then financed their lavish lifestyles with OUR money. So now it's the federal workers fault? I disagree."

Cbcory

suggested Congress volunteer for pay cuts, "cancel their lucrative medical care (they are exempt from the new health care "reform" act), or give up their other numerous perks."

FedUp

, alluding to being a federal worker himself or herself, commented that "our pay has essentially been cut," citing higher health insurance premiums this year while salaries remain unchanged, leading to less take-home dollars.

HopeM

agreed: "I work in the federal workforce. Do I like the pay freeze? I sure don't, but I understand. Whoever suggested we got some fat raise last year obviously didn't check their facts. Our raise last year was 1.5% of our salary, but WAIT! My health and dental insurance rose higher than the pay raise was so when it all comes down to it I make less than I did the year before. The same will happen this year and next, but overall I won't complain. Our economy is in a shambles -- this isn't one political party's fault. They are all crooks if you ask me.

White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer said last week that "just as families and businesses around the nations are tightening their belts in this economy, so must the government."

The Office for Management and Budget' Zients said the timing of the announcement was "consistent with the actions we have already made" to help stabilize the federal budget.

When President Obama took office he set a pay freeze for senior White House officials, and has alluded to the possibility of extending the measure to all political appointees in the U.S. government.

"This was a decision that was not made lightly," the White House said. "This freeze is not to punish federal workers or to disrespect the work that they do. It is the first of many actions we will take in the upcoming budget to put our nation on sound fiscal footing -- which will ask for some sacrifice from us all."

-- Written by Miriam Marcus Reimer in New York.

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