NEW YORK (MainStreet) – President Obama proposed a two-year salary freeze for more than 2 million federal workers Monday, a move he said was motivated by a need to decrease the nation’s deficit.
“The hard truth is that getting this deficit under control is going to require broad sacrifice,” Obama said at a White House press conference. “And that sacrifice must be shared by the employees of the federal government.”
The President’s proposal, which will need approval from Congress if it is to go into effect Jan. 1, 2011, would freeze pay for two years for all civilian federal employees on the executive branch payroll. It would not, however, include military personnel. It also would not affect members of Congress (who separately took measures to freeze their own salaries in April) or their staff, defense contractors, postal workers or federal court judges and workers.
According to the administration, this pay freeze would save $2 billion in 2011, $28 billion through the next five years and more than $60 billion during the next 10 years. Of course, that’s a drop in the bucket of the national debt, which now stands at $13.8 trillion.
The proposal, which came ahead of today’s meeting with Republican and Democratic leaders and Wednesday’s deadline for recommendations from Obama’s deficit-reduction commission, appears to be an attempt to get a jump on Republican plans to propose federal pay cuts and the elimination of certain government positions.
Federal workers have become the go-to target for spending cuts, since they have experienced fewer layoffs and receive continued annual pay increases, according to the Associated Press.
As reported, the average salary of federal employees is now about twice the amount that those in the private sector earn. As of 2009, federal workers earned an average of $123,049 annually, while private workers earned just $61,051.
If the proposal is not passed, federal employees would automatically get a 0.9% wage increase under the formula set by a 1990 law. In 2010, they received a 1.9% pay increase.