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Posted at 3:49 PM ET, 11/29/2010

Federal pay freeze: Reaction

By Ed O'Keefe

Assorted reaction President Obama's decision to freeze the salaries of federal employees for two years:

Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry:

"Federal employees work hard for our nation each day, and this sacrifice the President asked them to make today is significant and emblematic of the shared sacrifice we all will have to make if we are to bring the deficit to heel and preserve an economic future for our children."

American Federation of Government Employees President John Gage:

"This proposal to freeze federal pay is a superficial, panicked reaction to the deficit commission report. This pay freeze amounts to nothing more than political public relations. This is no time for scapegoating. The American people didn't vote to stick it to a VA nursing assistant making $28,000 a year or a border patrol agent earning $34,000 per year.

"President Obama asks federal workers to share the sacrifice, but it's unconscionable for him to attack the wages of federal working people while the millionaires and billionaires on Wall Street not only get their bailouts and astronomical bonuses; they also get their tax cuts."

National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen M. Kelley:

"NTEU disagrees with the president's announcement today calling for a two-year freeze on pay for civilian federal employees. NTEU is mindful of our nation's economic circumstances, but we are very disappointed with the White House's position and intend to explore all of our options, including working with Congress to overturn it. The modest 1.4 percent raise under consideration for 2011 is reflective of the average increase in wages in the private sector.

"On a daily basis, federal employees perform a number of vital and critical jobs on behalf of the American people, including ensuring our country's safety at its borders and airports and being tasked with the responsibility of carrying out measures designed to improve and move forward our halting economy. Our government needs to be able to hire and keep talented and skilled employees, and worsening federal pay will make that much more difficult."

National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association President Joseph A. Beaudoin:

"We understand the purpose of shared sacrifice. But federal employees and their families once again are being singled out. This action comes at a time when the federal government can ill afford to put recruitment and retention at risk. Indeed, freezing or cutting pay sends the wrong signal to the best and brightest workers federal agencies will need in these difficult times."

Partnership for Public Service President Max Stier:

"Clearly, we need to make hard choices to restore our nation's fiscal health. Everyone, including federal employees, must shoulder some of the burden - but Americans should be reminded of the importance of the federal workforce in resolving the multifaceted crises that face our nation. Federal employees are working to restore our economic position, foil terrorist plots, and provide services to those Americans who are suffering most in our struggling economy.

"We should not be overcompensating federal employees for the work that they do, but neither should we risk losing critical talent by undercompensating the highly skilled employees needed to carry out mission-critical activities. Across the board freezes or cuts are rarely the best management choices, because they avoid the real evaluation that ought to be done. We urge the Administration and Congress to review the current compensation system and devise one that is more market-sensitive, so Americans can be assured its workforce is appropriately compensated."

Statement from the Federal Managers Association:

"Federal employees are not immune to the economic woes experienced by other Americans; civil servants are facing a seven percent increase in their health insurance premiums in 2011, in addition to a nine percent increase this year. Additionally, many feds have spouses who lost their jobs as a result of the economic downturn and are now supporting their families on significantly less pay. By instituting a blanket pay freeze, the take home pay of civil servants will decrease over the next two years, which will not only harm these families, but will also have a negative effect on our struggling economy.

"It is FMA's position that any discussion of federal employee pay and compensation should center on the formulaic process employed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in the development of annual salary adjustment recommendations. The President initially proposed adjusting federal salaries to reflect the rise in private sector wages, as exhibited in the Employment Cost Index (ECI). The ECI used to determine private sector wages rose by an average of 1.4 percent last year, leading the President to recommend an identical pay increase for members of the federal workforce."

International Federal of Professional and Technical Engineers President Gregory Junemann:

"Federal workers shouldn't be paying such a high price for the country's economic problems. There are better ways to deal with the federal deficit than making federal employees sacrifice and their families suffer.

"For example, the Deficit Commission is right to call for an increase in taxes on investment income. Also, the time has come to allow the immoral tax cuts that President Bush doled out to the wealthiest two percent of American wage earners to expire. That last change alone will prevent another $1 trillion from being added to our national debt over the next ten years.

"The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that civil servants are paid 24 percent less than their private sector counterparts, that gap will likely widen as a result of today's announcement by the Obama administration to freeze the pay of federal workers. This is not sound economic policy, its sledgehammer economics."

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.):

"Millions of Americans are out of work, and many are tightening their belts; Federal employees must be no different. While I appreciate that the President reduced the length of his proposed pay freeze from three to two years, it would have produced significantly more savings had that sacrifice been shared between Federal civilian and military personnel -- with a strong exception for the members of our military and civilian employees risking their lives on our behalf in Afghanistan, Iraq, and anywhere else they are serving in harm's way.

"It would have also added an element of fairness: there has been parity between civilian and military pay raises for 22 of the past 28 years in which raises were authorized, and hundreds of thousands of Federal civilian employees work alongside military employees in the Department of Defense and other agencies. In fact, the first American casualty in Afghanistan was a CIA agent -- a federal civilian employee."

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.):

"I am encouraged by President Obama's proposal to freeze non-military federal pay for the next two years. This past May, House Republicans--prompted by YouCut voters--offered the very same spending-cut proposal on the floor of the House. The YouCut proposal was one of many specific spending reductions offered by House Republicans over the past two years, and we are pleased that President Obama appears ready to join our efforts. As the recent election made clear, Americans are fed up with a government that spends too much, borrows too much and grows too much.

"Many federal employees do important work, but this is exactly the kind of savings measure we have to make in order to begin to restore some fiscal sanity in America, especially considering recent reports of federal salaries significantly outpacing private-sector salaries. With so many Americans tightening their belts, Washington must do the same."

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on federal workforce:

"Since taking office in 2009, the Obama Administration has added 141,000 new workers to the federal payroll. This number does not even include Postal, temporary census enumerators, or uniformed military workers. Furthermore, according to a recent announcement, the Administration anticipates adding yet another 125,000 new federal hires this fiscal year.

"If the Administration's proposal does indeed freeze overall gross pay, it is a step in the right direction. However, the proposal does not appear to curb step increases. If that is the case, this announcement is nothing more than a hollow press release. At the end of the day, this policy will serve only to frustrate current employees, while doing nothing to curb our debts."

Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.):

"Make no mistake, reducing the deficit and paying down the debt will not be easy and all Americans, including federal employees, will have to do their part. But a federal pay freeze should only be considered as part of an overall deficit reduction plan. Singling out federal employees in advance of a comprehensive plan is counter-productive and risks leaving Americans with the false impression that federal employee pay raises are a significant contributor to our national debt.

"The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, tax cuts without offsetting spending reductions, and rising entitlement costs are the fundamental drivers of rising deficits. Allowing federal employees to be used as a political football merely serves to distract from the hard choices we must make to bring our nation's fiscal house in order."

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee:

"Federal employees, including members of Congress and our staffs, have to sacrifice as part of an urgent need to curtail the cost of the federal government and reduce the national debt to help get us out of these tough economic times.

"I say this with regret, because we are asking many dedicated, hard-working, and patriotic public servants to pay a price for fiscal and economic conditions for which they are not responsible. But private sector employees across the country are struggling, and all sectors, including the public sector, must tighten their belts.

"I hope that this sacrifice by federal employees will be part of a comprehensive and successful national effort to get our fiscal house in order and that an improved economy will yield a brighter national jobs picture in which all workers, including federal employees, can benefit."

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.):

"I applaud President Obama for taking action to rein in government spending by temporarily freezing federal employee wages. There is still more work to be done and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to control spending and reduce our national debt."

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah):

"Freezing civilian pay for federal workers is a step in the right direction, but it does not go far enough to shrink the size of our bloated government. The President should also cut or freeze the number of federal workers, which is precisely what the Reduce and Cap the Federal Workforce Act that I introduced recently would accomplish."

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.):

"President Obama's call for a federal pay freeze is a welcome step that will show taxpayers the federal government is willing to sacrifice and lead by example. Workers in the private sector are right to be concerned that federal salaries and benefits are, on average, twice as generous. I would also encourage agency heads to take steps now to freeze federal pay that do not require congressional approval."

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | November 29, 2010; 3:49 PM ET
Categories:  Workplace Issues  
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Comments

It would also help if they would look at the practice of hiring 4-5 people to do one person's job.

At least if we put these people on welfare, we wouldn't have to pay for their desks.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | November 29, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I am 35 year federal employee who has seen federal employees consistently targeted for political purposes. During that time some political elements have painted the federal workforce as a bunch of do nothing overpaid workers. This criticism is coming a lot of folks who are on the public payrolls themselves. While many of those people are on Capitol Hill fighting their political wars we are busy getting the nations business done. I would wager my paycheck that we get more accomplished than they do. While I would like to have my annual raise I understand the need to reduce the deficit and I am willing to take that hit. The issue that I have is why isn't those folks in the congress willing to make the same sacrifice that they are imposing on others, where is the leadership?

Posted by: CharlesNewsomeSR | November 29, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

The 99% of do nothing overpaid workers make the rest look bad.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | November 29, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I was a federal employee when the republican congress under President Clinton
shut down the government and supposedly put all employees on furlough. I went to work everyday even though being told I would not be paid for that time. Actually I was paid along with employees that stayed at home during the furlough. I was willling to do this and I think if I were still working I would agree to go without pay raises but what I object to is that the Congress and Senate not only have the ability to give theirselves raises, they actually give themselves guite generous pay raises frequently. I think if the employees earning less than $50,000 a year can give up their pay raises, Congress and the Senate should give up theirs. For the same reason they want to vote in big tax cuts for the people making over $200,000 a year which includes them. It is actually the rank and file that keeps this country going.

Posted by: jonessmith | November 29, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I am a relatively new fed, and I am proud of the work that I do. I don't have a problem with the pay freeze. I understand times are tough - I get it.
However - if the GOP says that feds need to have their pay cut in their same breath as saying that we need tax cuts for people making $250k (remember, no fed other than the president makes more than 180k), than I call bravo-sierra on every last one of them. That would prove their hypocrisy.

Posted by: vtavgjoe | November 29, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Why don't some of the Federal workers ask their neighbor who is a state or local government worker or maybe works at many of the non profits, how they have been handling it. They have been dealing with not only pay freezes, but staff reductions and furloughs for the last 2 years with NO end in sight. Welcome to the real world.

Posted by: none1955 | November 29, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I work for the government (one of the lower paid very hard working people), and I'm all for taking a temporary hit to help the economy, but what I find extremely frustrating is that Congress, who deregulated the banking industry that got us in the mess, and the Department of Defense, whose no-bid contracting and over spending during both wars (which has caused the deficit to be higher that it should be) should also be taking a hit along with the rest of us.

I'm tired of having to deal with tighter and harder contracting practices because of the department of defenses bad practices, and now I have to deal with no pay raise for 2 years, despite my already low salary....

Posted by: ingermont | November 29, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

i don't know if our politicians are considered federal employees, but they, each and every one of them, should also have their pay freezed. I am a fed. emp. and will gladly do my part, but the white house and congress should consider a sliding scale so the highest paid, somewhat like myself, sacrafice more than the less paid.

Posted by: wmericle | November 29, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Cost savings must be achieved due the the national bankruptcy of our nation. However, until real savings is achieved with and end to nation building (i.e. end the wars)and dramatic entitlement spending cuts(i.e. SS, medicare, etc.) this is nothing more than playing around the edges. At least they got us fighting amongst ourselves!

Posted by: PullingtheWool | November 29, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

A freeze in salaries is no biggie. Just be thankful you have a job and that there are no job cuts on the table as yet. There are many of us who would trade places with you in a heartbeat.

Posted by: michelangelocooper | November 29, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

As an Air Force veteran and current fed, I have no problem with a pay freeze. But as has been noted earlier, why should the upper class continue to get a tax cut at the same time? As always, we are a punching bag. The same Republicans who voted OFF BUDGET 500 billion dollars for the war in Iraq year after year are now demanding about 5 billion dollars over two years on the backs of feds. I am fed up and will probably take an early out. I am tired of the punches. As an IT security person, in light of the recent Wiki-Leaks issues, this is the wrong time to be giving me a reason to leave. But I am tired of the constant comments from Cantor and Boehner about the bloated useless bureaucracy. The growth in government (under the previous administration) occurred mainly in the contractor ranks. But that part gets conveniently forgotten in the GOP talking points about rolling back the government. I could go on and on, but Cantor and Boehner and many other GOP politicans have drunk the Tea. Enjoy your new world order.

Posted by: cpusss | November 29, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

O'Bummer

Glad this was an election issue. Just like the deficit commission etc etc etc

Posted by: thepidon | November 29, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

I BELIEVE THAT THE WORKERS THAT SHOULD TAKE CUTS OR NOT RECEIVE PAY INCREASE SHOULD BE JUDGES, CONGRESS & THEIR STAFF BECAUSE THESE FOLKS HAVE FREE ACCESS TO SO MANY AVENUES OF HEALTH CARE, PARKING, GAS, JUST TO NAME A FEW. THEY CAN JUST SPEAK THEIR NAME & THEY GET PERKS WHEREVER THEY GO. BUT, THE WORKING CIVILIANS THAT ARE STILL SPENDING FOR GAS, PARKING, DAYCARE, GROCERIES, RENT, MORTGAGE, HEALTHCARE & CREDIT/DEBT ALONE ARE THE FOLKS WHO ARE LOOKED UPON FOR SPENDING EACH QUARTER & IT IS NOT FAIR. JUDGES, CONGRESS & THOSE HIGH TITLED FOLKS MAKE WELL OVER 6 FIGURES & ARE PRETTY MUCH ESTABLISHED WITH HOMES & LIVING IN THE FASHION THEY ADORN THEMSELVES WITH. THEY CAN WINE & DINE THEMSELVES ALONG WITH THEIR FAMILIES WITHOUT LIMITS TO CREDIT CARD OR BILL ISSUES. THEY DO NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT HEALTH CARE OR THE ISSUES THAT CIVILIAN WORKERS DEAL WITH FROM PAY CHECK TO PAY CHECK. SO, WHY IS THIS ?? IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. YOUR SPENDERS ARE NOT THE 6 FIGURE FOLKS WHO HAVE EVERYTHING THEY NEED OR WANT BUT THE LITTLE WORKERS WHO DEVOTE THEIR TIME & EFFORTS TO GO TO WORK IN SNOW, SLEET OR TRAFFIC DAILY. THE COST OF GAS, FOOD, CLOTHING, MEDICAL CARE & SOCIAL LIFE HAS REACHED AN ALL TIME HIGH. DEPRESSION IS RAMPID EVERYWHERE. EACH WEEK FOLKS ARE KILLING KIDS, FAMILIES & SUCH. WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON WITH THE GOVERNMENT ???

Posted by: praywithangel | November 29, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

As a federal worker, I have no problem with doing my part to address deficits. I do have a problem with the White House and the Democrats supporting this measure while caving on tax cuts for the wealthy. As I see it, we'll be sacrificing so millionaires can bloat the deficit more by paying less in taxes. At least the Republicans are consistent and honest about their love for the wealthy and disdain for the federal workforce.

Posted by: Bethesda_Jack | November 29, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

I find it interesting that the Republicans want to freeze the Federal workers pay but they and their staff are exempt. I work in MI and have tried to hire ex auto workers and their salaries were easily 25- 30% higher than people who work at our facility. Having said that, our illustrious Gov't leaders bailed out GM and Chrysler. If the Federal deficit was caused by us then we should take the hit but it's because of all the freebees our Congress and President approved to everyone else.

Posted by: papameme | November 29, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Many agencies within DOD have instituted a 10% cut in FTE so not only is the poor DOD civilian employee not getting a raise he or she is watching their workload increase. Many DOD civilians got the royal screw when NSPS ended and they made more than whatever the tops step in their grade did when the reverted back to the GS scale. Now with the freeze it will be decades before they get raise.

Obama bailed out the UAW workers at GM and Chrysler. UAW workers are the largest consumers of ED drugs in the world and its all paid by their health insurance.

So union scum, bankers and Wall street get bailed out and Feds get screwed. Nice job Comrade Barry.

Posted by: sheepherder | November 29, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Federal employees should boycott holiday shopping and return any purchases already made. Lets see 2.6 million Feds not spending would put a big hit on state and local taxes and GDP.

Remember this freeze needs to be approved by Congress. I wonder if any Democratic senators have the balls to stop any legislation with the freeze in it.

Posted by: sheepherder | November 29, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Until people band together in MASS and demand the FED be dissolved and the Central Banking families removed from power (Fundamental change), there will be NO ANSWER. The banking cartel are the biggest LIARS and THIEVES this world has ever seen ! They caused it all. No bank has ever been or will ever be broke unless the FED wants them broke, period. The Banking industry controls ALL Govt and the judicial system. It will take an armed revolution to get our country back where we need it to be. The banking industry continues to steal homes like a thief in the night, after having been paid for them several times over in bail outs, insurance and tax breaks. I hope and pray I see the day that BOA and others go up in flames...

Posted by: ledwards6 | November 29, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

The federal employees who make over 150,000 per year should take the blunt of the hurt of this cut back. My wife is a fed. bop employee. We are opposed to the pay cut in every way. Here there are illegal's in this country that are using our resources freely and who is paying for it? US. We have tons of married men in state prisons who's wives are collecting money while they are incarcerated and who pays for that? US. does any of that seem right to you? hmmm not to me. The state system is just as screwy as the federal system. They can do just as many cut backs in the state dept.s as well in all states as they can to eliminate pay cuts from federal employees. I personally think that taking the money just from the feds is wrong. Take it from obama. He seems to have some deep pockets. Also I say pull all of our TROOPS out and bring them all home where they all belong. we have things they can do here where they can survive. we have our own oil reserve. Let the islams fight their own battle or give them a few bombs and a match

Posted by: hogwash77 | November 29, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

The federal employees who make over 150,000 per year should take the blunt of the hurt of this cut back. My wife is a fed. bop employee. We are opposed to the pay cut in every way. Here there are illegal's in this country that are using our resources freely and who is paying for it? US. We have tons of married men in state prisons who's wives are collecting money while they are incarcerated and who pays for that? US. does any of that seem right to you? hmmm not to me. The state system is just as screwy as the federal system. They can do just as many cut backs in the state dept.s as well in all states as they can to eliminate pay cuts from federal employees. I personally think that taking the money just from the feds is wrong.

Posted by: hogwash77 | November 29, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

The federal employees who make over 150,000 per year should take the blunt of the hurt of this cut back. My wife is a fed. bop employee. We are opposed to the pay cut in every way. Here there are illegal's in this country that are using our resources freely and who is paying for it? US. We have tons of married men in state prisons who's wives are collecting money while they are incarcerated and who pays for that? US. does any of that seem right to you? They can do just as many cut backs in the state dept.s as well in all states as they can to eliminate pay cuts from federal employees. I personally think that taking the money just from the feds is wrong.

Posted by: hogwash77 | November 29, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

The federal employees who make over 150,000 per year should take the blunt of the hurt of this cut back. My wife is a fed. bop employee. We are opposed to the pay cut in every way. Here there are illegal's in this country that are using our resources freely and who is paying for it? They can do just as many cut backs in the state dept.s as well in all states as they can to eliminate pay cuts from federal employees. I personally think that taking the money just from the feds is wrong.

Posted by: hogwash77 | November 29, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

I think this action is completely in order and should have included staff cuts to the arbitrary tune of 25%.. I think the same should be done with the military budget, including staff cuts, and I think that both the Administration and Congress and Staff should receive similar cuts in salary, benefits and staff. In my view, all of these people are significantly over-compensated but particularly compared to the average American. To use some of the new language I am seeing - going forward, our Federal government needs to man up and cut a big bunch of fat. When you find yourself in a deep hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging. We are in a deep hole.

Posted by: texace | November 29, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

The federal pay freeze is an attack on the middle class, pure and simple. You who rant and rave about us Federal workers, forget that we work for you for a minute and look around you. Federal workers shop in your stores, drive the cars you make, buy the services you offer, are your clients, your patients, your friends and your neighbors. Cut us and you are cutting yourselves. Explain to me what freezing my pay does for the economy or the deficit. If you ask me, it aggravates both. Believe me, I am not happy that you have lost your job or you are furloughed. That hurts me too. What can my child learn from a furloughed teacher? Only one thing is true -- we ALL haven't done enough to get this economy back on track.

Posted by: glazerandfamily | November 29, 2010 11:26 PM | Report abuse

Frankly, I was expecting this last year. It seems that in times of such dramatic deficits this is a small and incremental step that can be contributed to solving the problem. No objection from this Federal employee. However, I hope that Federal sector workers do not become the easy fall guy to disproportionately bear the burden of erasing the deficit.

In this regard, I’m not particularly impressed by the argument that, as the private sector suffers, so must the Federal worker. The argument might make some sense if Federal workers‘ salaries and benefits were enhanced in a healthy economy (and in like degree), but nobody in the private sector rallies around that proposition. If they had, Federal workers would have been paid much, much more prior to 2007 (during the boom years), and, once this depression is over, would be paid more in the future (the boom years to come, and they will come).

Another irritating aspect of how this "contribution" to resolving the deficit is framed, is that it seems to suggest that Federal employees will somehow not be absorbing the other pain that impacts everybody: unfavorable changes to medicare,unfavorable changes to social security (sold as a component of the FERS retirement package),tightening on disability, and tax increases. It also suggests that Federal employees will somehow be unaffected by the dramatic cutting of contractors (whose work we will pick up)and attrition of positions (leaving yet more work for remaining employees). And this is to say nothing of the giddy topic of eliminating programs and agencies.

Logic is too much to expect from critics who post indiscriminate calumny about Federal workers and the workings of the Federal Government (of which most of them know close to nothing). In good times, we all know that working for the Federal Government is no way to bask in the sun of an up economy. Now, it appears, the scions of "conservatism" (who in large measure brought us this fiscal storm), wish to make sure we all know that Federal Government employment also provides less shelter from the pelting rains.

There is pain, and then, apparently, there is the special pain to be absorbed by those who had the temerity to forego the risk and potential for high reward and take the relative security and other rewards of a Government job. So, they complain about the quality of the Federal workforce. Think the workforce could get worse? For those planning the other deficit reduction cuts, just remember, as regards Federal workers and most other things, you only reap what you sow.

Posted by: finserra | November 30, 2010 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Frankly, I was expecting this last year. It seems that in times of such dramatic deficits this is a small and incremental step that can be contributed to solving the problem. No objection from this Federal employee. However, I hope that Federal sector workers do not become the easy fall guy to disproportionately bear the burden of erasing the deficit.

In this regard, I’m not particularly impressed by the argument that, as the private sector suffers, so must the Federal worker. The argument might make some sense if Federal workers‘ salaries and benefits were enhanced in a healthy economy (and in like degree), but nobody in the private sector rallies around that proposition. If they had, Federal workers would have been paid much, much more prior to 2007 (during the boom years), and, once this depression is over, would be paid more in the future (the boom years to come, and they will come).

Another irritating aspect of how this "contribution" to resolving the deficit is framed, is that it seems to suggest that Federal employees will somehow not be absorbing the other pain that impacts everybody: unfavorable changes to medicare,unfavorable changes to social security (sold as a component of the FERS retirement package),tightening on disability, and tax increases. It also suggests that Federal employees will somehow be unaffected by the dramatic cutting of contractors (whose work we will pick up)and attrition of positions (leaving yet more work for remaining employees). And this is to say nothing of the giddy topic of eliminating programs and agencies.

Logic is too much to expect from critics who post indiscriminate calumny about Federal workers and the workings of the Federal Government (of which most of them know close to nothing). In good times, we all know that working for the Federal Government is no way to bask in the sun of an up economy. Now, it appears, the scions of "conservatism" (who in large measure brought us this fiscal storm), wish to make sure we all know that Federal Government employment also provides less shelter from the pelting rains.

There is pain, and then, apparently, there is the special pain to be absorbed by those who had the temerity to forego the risk and potential for high reward and take the relative security and other rewards of a Government job. So, they complain about the quality of the Federal workforce. Think the workforce could get worse? For those planning the other deficit reduction cuts, just remember, as regards Federal workers and most other things, you only reap what you sow.

Posted by: finserra | November 30, 2010 12:02 AM | Report abuse

Well, I will assume that President Obama is not on the side of the workers.
He had said the the workers must sacrifice.
I guess this mean he will lose a lot of middle class and union voters?
Not good for re-election?

Posted by: jjones2630 | November 30, 2010 1:01 AM | Report abuse

This act of holding down the pay for two years is only superficial. The Federal employees have already sacrifice by working 8 1/2 hours a day rather tan 8. The 1/2 hour was a sacrifice from WWII.

Posted by: dchen41 | November 30, 2010 6:10 AM | Report abuse

I'm fine with the freeze for one reason as a federal employee with more then 30 years service and residing under the old retirement system it makes my decision on retirement easy. Why stay in a job that's out to screw it employees. If the Prez wants to fix things, fine first off stop kissing the gluts of the Republicians get the leaders from both side of the aisle in the W.H. sit their butts down and come out with a collective plan on how to fix things. 1. Role Social Security back to what it was designed for not what it has morphed into. 2. Drop the retirement program for both Congressionmen and Senators unless they have been in for more then 5 terms on the house side and 2 terms on the Senate side. 3. Limit their staffs to no more then four people. In today's electronic age most everything can be done by email. 4. Rewrite laws, procedures and policies that grossly delay the acquisition process. 5. While the federal employee is taking it in the shorts everytime a Senator or Congressmen adds PORK to a bill that increases spending in any way for their area the Washington Post should set aside a half page and list those items, put them on the web to show everyone where the waste really comes from.

The impact, might mean that one of my daughters will have to eat a college loan for her education. Something I was trying to avoid as I know how hard once you have a debt it is to get out of it. They still call it a recession yet gas prices still are inflationary and continue to rise. Why?

Posted by: MichaelSmith2 | November 30, 2010 6:39 AM | Report abuse

I'm fine with the freeze for one reason as a federal employee with more then 30 years service and residing under the old retirement system it makes my decision on retirement easy. Why stay in a job that's out to screw it employees. If the Prez wants to fix things, fine first off stop kissing the gluts of the Republicians get the leaders from both side of the aisle in the W.H. sit their butts down and come out with a collective plan on how to fix things. 1. Role Social Security back to what it was designed for not what it has morphed into. 2. Drop the retirement program for both Congressionmen and Senators unless they have been in for more then 5 terms on the house side and 2 terms on the Senate side. 3. Limit their staffs to no more then four people. In today's electronic age most everything can be done by email. 4. Rewrite laws, procedures and policies that grossly delay the acquisition process. 5. While the federal employee is taking it in the shorts everytime a Senator or Congressmen adds PORK to a bill that increases spending in any way for their area the Washington Post should set aside a half page and list those items, put them on the web to show everyone where the waste really comes from.

The impact, might mean that one of my daughters will have to eat a college loan for her education. Something I was trying to avoid as I know how hard once you have a debt it is to get out of it. They still call it a recession yet gas prices still are inflationary and continue to rise. Why?

Posted by: MichaelSmith2 | November 30, 2010 6:39 AM | Report abuse

I am a lifelong federal employee (started in 1973), and have worked hard and done well for my pay. I have no problem with the pay freeze to help my country, but Congress should be affected too (maybe a pay cut for them). It would be nice to see health care premiums frozen too! Just curious as to why Feds are always the first that they want to cut or use as an example? We should all agree that something needs to be done, and if every American would do their part, we could get through this faster with less of an impact on a majority. While our private counterparts in many cases do earn more for the same type of job, they are loosing their jobs in many instances instead of a pay freeze (why I will agree to the freeze). We made a conscious decision to work for our government (when I came into the government we were called civil servants - how that title fits so well). I get tired of congress and others tellling the country that we are the rich "fat cats" taking from America. Maybe you should tell them what it costs to live in this area. When people in other parts of the country find out how much our housing costs are they can not believe it. Yes, we make alot compared to people in rural areas, small towns, etc., but our expenses are proportionately higher as well. I am proud to say that I work for our government, and it is not "just a job" but a career that I am glad I choose. I gave up perks that I could have gotten in the "private" sector to secure my retirement for later years - but it looks like that may not be there since after the pay freeze the next thing they want to do is restructure the retirement system yet again. That is truly unfair to someone who has worked all of these years to find out near the end that what I worked for will not be what is there. Just my opinion and thoughts.

Posted by: Herewegoagain4 | November 30, 2010 7:58 AM | Report abuse

OK, so freeze the feds. Convenient whipping boy. It's popular, which means it must be incomplete.

Alright, so where's the rest of the plan?

This must be part of a big plan because right-sizing the federal workforce and federal worker paycheck is only a drop in the swimming pool. When you spend $1.3-$1.6 trillion more than you brought in, like we have in the last two years, and your regular expenses without the oddball one-time stimulus money are half a trillion more than you expect to bring in, what the heck good is dinging the federal workforce over $2.5 billion. Sounds symbolic.

Perhaps this a fortuitous start for a greater effort to make sure this spending thing gets back to numbers and logic?

Seriously, $520 billion to address the debt alone, $895 billion for Defense, and we pick on the federal worker for $2.5 billion a year. A graphic from the washington post made it pretty clear http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/budget-2010/

Is it possible to get an independent panel of financial folks to review the reasonableness of every line of the federal budget over $2 million. Perhaps a business school would like to tackle the challenge.

Posted by: washnative | November 30, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

1. How much of Obama's $450,000 salaray for the next 2 years is going back to the U.S. Treasury in the form of a pay cut?

2. How much of Congress' pay raises for the next 2 years is going back to the U.S. Treasury in the form of a pay freeze/cut?

When the idiot President and the idiot Congress pony up, then by all means free the salaries of the average Federal employee.

Posted by: Viennacommuter1 | November 30, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse


A 1.4% pay raise for the average, $50k federal salary is $500 dollars or so each year that they will NOT get.

I think they'll manage. Maybe they shouldn't have bought the BMW, Mercedes, or Escalade and continue to live out in SE/SW AND not improve their community by buying property.

I'm just saying.

Posted by: DannyP1 | November 30, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Glad I retired as a federal employee. We are always the symbolic gesture leading the parade that NO ONE follows. This amounts to a PAY CUT for most employees as the inefficient federal health insurance premiums that feds pay 35% of the cost of rises each year. One year Reagan did it to finance tax cuts in a GOOD ECONOMY. Obama is able to do this as the FED Govt BANS all non-postal unions from negotiating pay, health insurance and pensions - a right to negotiate that ALL municipal and state unions across the USA have!!!!

Obama should do this only if Congress passes a law freezing state and municipal pay nationwide. The last stimulus was to pay/bail out the states and cities because they overpay their teachers and police.

Posted by: UNIONVP-LongtimeFEd | November 30, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

I wish that congress was as willing "to lead by example." Their salaries are specifically excluded from this proposal. Do they even realize how hypocritical they sound? It's time for the removal of earmarks and time to start term limits for congress. Removing the motiviation to simply look out for their own personal self interests would go a lot further to solving our budget problems.

Posted by: X12BuckleX12 | November 30, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

A massive reduction in force is also warranted. If these people are so skilled, they'll have no trouble finding real jobs.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | November 30, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Nothing shocks me about Washington. Lets cut the Fed workforce and save since they are lazy and make too much and that will solve the problem is what most Repubs say. But lets make sure folks making over 250K keep their tax cuts and add a trillion to the defict- we do not want them to have to sacrifice. I already make 25% less than the private sector - but that does not matter right !!!

Obama just made sure that Repubs will stay in office for years. I will never vote for a Dem again ever. Thanks for the pay cut since my health premiums will go up about 10% also.

What a gutless President. KMA Mr. President.

Posted by: FedinTexas | November 30, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

The proposed freeze on pay for civilian federal workers seems to be popular, but becomes a persecution of an unprotected class. When the private sector is in a 'boom' or 'expanding bubble', federal workers' salaries do not keep up. The balance to this comes when the private sector is 'flat' or 'recessing', in that the federal employee can still see small increases that allow him/her to 'catch up'. In other words, the federal worker should see an uninterrupted slowly rising salary over time while the private sector sees variances. Sure, it is popular to have federal salaries stay flat during hard times, but remember that these same salary increases do not keep up during good times. To 'monetarily withhold' the public worker during both good and bad times is a persecution of an unprotected class.

Posted by: davidawp | November 30, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

The federal pay freeze will do nothing but hurt low paid federal workers. The U.S. government has bailed out the banks while the CEO's were making millions. The Defense department watched as private industry thugs raped the federal budget out of billions in the name of aiding our military personnel. Ronald Reagan froze salaries in 1982 and 1986. The result was nil and when he left Washington he said that his biggest regret was not paying down the debt.
The national debt is caused by money the government borrows to fight their wars. It has nothing to do with federal workers. And the Congressman and the Senators who talk about low paid employees taking a hit should stop talking out of both sides of their mouths. If you want to freeze those making over $150,000 then do it but leave the majority of low paid employees along. If anything, the government should be an example to how to treat their employees not shaft them like private industry when times get a little rough.
It is naive for anyone to think the federal employees are the answer to our debt and budgetary problems. It is a smokescreen to hide the real issues. It is time to end the war. The war machine has made enough money. What is the cost? Seven to fourteen trillion dollars. Start with the private industries who say they can run the government better than the public sector. Leave the public servants alone.

Posted by: lourencoanthony | November 30, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

The federal pay freeze will do nothing but hurt low paid federal workers. The U.S. government has bailed out the banks while the CEO's were making millions. The Defense department watched as private industry thugs raped the federal budget out of billions in the name of aiding our military personnel. Ronald Reagan froze salaries in 1982 and 1986. The result was nil and when he left Washington he said that his biggest regret was not paying down the debt.
The national debt is caused by money the government borrows to fight their wars. It has nothing to do with federal workers. And the Congressman and the Senators who talk about low paid employees taking a hit should stop talking out of both sides of their mouths. If you want to freeze those making over $150,000 then do it but leave the majority of low paid employees along. If anything, the government should be an example to how to treat their employees not shaft them like private industry when times get a little rough.
It is naive for anyone to think the federal employees are the answer to our debt and budgetary problems. It is a smokescreen to hide the real issues. It is time to end the war. The war machine has made enough money. What is the cost? Seven to fourteen trillion dollars. Start with the private industries who say they can run the government better than the public sector. Leave the public servants alone.

Posted by: lourencoanthony | November 30, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

If the "low-paid" workers are hurt so badly, they should go out and get real jobs and be replaced by computers like they should have 15 years ago.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | November 30, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

It seems like every year, there are more Title 42 managers hired at FDA and more FDA managers are converting to Title 42 positions. Does this pay freeze include the thousands of Title 42 employees who make up to $300,000 per year? And get 30% bonuses every year?

Posted by: PhillyFed | November 30, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

CyberMonday meant .gov cyber attacks...guess Scrooge came early this year.....Less people able to buy products and less saving..."Defeets" the path to the malls....and growth for all and to all "a good night"

Posted by: atldonna | November 30, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

As a fed empolyee I object to the pay raise freeze. I am facing an increase in the cost of my benefits, the decrease of the child tax credit, the decrease to the married filing a joint return standard deduction and the rising cost of gas and food, now my pay is going to decrease. How about pay freezes or reductions on the top employees, aka any one GS-13+, Congress, the Cabinet and our Preisdent. The buck is apparently no longer stopping at or even looking at the top any more.

Posted by: Biny68 | November 30, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Is Congress going to take a 2 year pay freeze? Sounds only fair. As a retiree I have seen my health insurance costs rise by 50% in ten years and my Medicare costs rise every year with no SS coverage and no COLA for the last two years.

Posted by: pbrad10030 | November 30, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

I recognize that "we" must all play a part in the solution, even if it wasn't our doing.

First, that our military pay isn't included is the best part of the idea.

But seeing that the comments seem to be "for" or "against" along political party lines, there is something missing: I didn't see any of the "for it" politicians saying that they, too, ought to be held to the same pay freeze. And of course, I strongly suspect that ANY member of congress is much better off (financially) than almost ANY civil servant employee.

Posted by: Yooper44 | November 30, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

To Senator Tim Coburn of Oklahoma You sir are spreading false information I believe you know is untrue.

Federal pay is not on average twice that of private sector workers in like jobs. It is in fact about 20% below private sector wages.

To the journalists who included his quote in this article I challenge you to expose his outright falsehood.

Posted by: LeaveMeAlone2 | November 30, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

So how does keeping money from those most likely to spend it make the economy stronger?

Do you think those who benefitted the most over the past "sky rocketing deficit" years should be the ones expected to pay their fair share to help the economy?

Could IBM, Microsoft, GM, or the Washington Post, etc. hire effective and ambitious employees if their policies were to tell potential new hires, "You will see no pay increases for at least two years while your share of benefits costs will keep going up?"

How does keeping seven or eight hundred dollars a year from someone making $50,000.00 a year compare with even a one percent tax break ($10,000.00) for someone making one million a year? Oh yeah let's rob from the poor to give to the rich! No country does it better!

Ain't it great we can spend more on our Defense budget than the next twenty nations . . . COMBINED - and are willing to keep on doing so - but won't provide a one or two percent bump for the poor slob who supports them? That Military-Industrial Complex can't lose, can they?

I sure am glad I'm retiring so I can take my two Post Grad degrees and go to work for a Government contractor at more than two times - I've been offered $150.00 per hour - what I've been being paid!

The tarnished brass handcuffs are gone! I've sacrificed enough!

Posted by: doraki | November 30, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

I always thought Congress was Federal Employees to a degree. I see they have voted themselves a raise for 2011. Call that FAIR when all federal employees face a freeze.

Posted by: Wesley9504 | November 30, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the Christmas present Obama! If it was a lump of coal at least I could burn it for heat. So much for me getting my heating system changed from a monsterous coal burning CO2 spewing furnace to a heat pump! If you are going to freeze my pay, then I DO WANT TO SEE YOUR BIRTH CERTIFICATE to confirm that you really do have the AUTHORITY to do it. As far as Congress, judges, their staffs being exempt from it. If they are going to vote on MY right to MY cost of living increase, then they should NOT BE EXEMPT. They are in essence GS workers too! Under any circumstance we should not freeze the military pay increases.
This idea that it does not affect the bonuses. Hog wash! I have been given 2 certificates this year for exempliary service awards without a dime! We are told there is NO FUNDING for ANY bonuses. I am tired of being the scape goat! Government workers may get more pay increases on average, but they DO NOT work for the same pay and benefits as they could if they took their talents, education, and experience and went to the private sector. Guess what OBAMA - you can count on not only my vote AGAINST you in 2 years, I will actively and TIRELESSLY campain on my time off to make sure you are defeated in the next election. Especially if Congress, their staff, and you are allowed to be exempt. I am also going to do what another commentor suggested. Mostly because I know I now cannot afford it, there will be NO CHRISTMAS SHOPPING done this year. I'll send IOUs just like the government! Kenya born bastard!

Posted by: waternymph | December 1, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Congress hasn't had a pay raise in at least two years, ignorant curs.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | December 1, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I too call for a COMPLETE boycott of HOLIDAY SHOPPING! Make homemade gifts. Send IOUs like Obama does. DO anything but spend for holiday gifts. Let Obama, Congress, and the shopkeepers know what power the 2.6 billion government workers can wield! I get tired of working just as hard and efficient as I can for this type of "symbolic behavior." Where was the "symbolic behavior" when Wall Street, the banks, and GM had to be bailed out! I am not advocating a government worker work slow down, but I for one will NOT be giving up MY LUNCH 1/2 any more for any reason or emergency at work again! Not until the pay freeze is either voted down or done away with! And Congress - I'll be looking at the role call. If my district's Senator or Representative is a yea then I'll be campaining on my days off AGAINST you whether you are republican, tea party, or democrat!
Signed DISGUSTED

Posted by: waternymph | December 1, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

I too call for a COMPLETE boycott of HOLIDAY SHOPPING! Make homemade gifts. Send IOUs like Obama does. DO anything but spend for holiday gifts. Let Obama, Congress, and the shopkeepers know what power the 2.6 billion government workers can wield! I get tired of working just as hard and efficient as I can for this type of "symbolic behavior." Where was the "symbolic behavior" when Wall Street, the banks, and GM had to be bailed out! I am not advocating a government worker work slow down, but I for one will NOT be giving up MY LUNCH 1/2 any more for any reason or emergency at work again! Not until the pay freeze is either voted down or done away with! And Congress - I'll be looking at the role call. If my district's Senator or Representative is a yea then I'll be campaining on my days off AGAINST you whether you are republican, tea party, or democrat!
Signed DISGUSTED

Posted by: waternymph | December 1, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Government workers can't slow down more than they already have unless they start to move backwards.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | December 1, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I think both the Democrats and the Republicans still do not understand the public views of cutting back on government. I think it's because they are a part of the wealthy sector that needs to be addressed. Look at government as a corporation, it is my opinion that our Congressman, Senators, and other legislative Representatives, need to take a pay cut, they need to cut back their staffs. Starting with cutting the federal employees cost of living is not in the public’s interest. Dealing with higher paid salaries meaning those in the Washington hub need to look at themselves and take account of how they impact the problem and how they can change things for the better. When they are willing to cut back themselves on their salaries and staff then the public sector can feel an effort has been made for the AMERICAN public.

Work at reforming the corporation at the top first. You were elected to your positions and as you can see from this past election you can be replaced. The public wants to see you cut back on yourselves first.

Democrats and Republicans are like the dog that chases his tail and you are not resolving anything only making matters worse. GET A CLUE.

Posted by: Walpa | December 1, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

As a federal employee I am willing to make the sacrifice, but I am not willing to be bad mouthed by getjiggly1 and his/her ilk. I work hard for eight hours a day and I am doing the work of 3 people because of cuts. I have 37 years with the Government, not because I love it but because I am a lower grade worker and cannot afford to retire. And as far as getting a real job. If there were real jobs out there to get we wouldn't be having this conversation. Yes, we all need to do our part, but why are there still tax cuts for the rich? You want less federal workers? Remember that the next time you get sick over bad meat or produce because half the USDA inspectors jobs have been cut.

Posted by: catskent | December 1, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

If you've been a "lower grade worker" for 37 years you need to take a long look at your life choices.

Which person's job are you doing when you're whining on the internet at 2:30 in the afternoon? Deputy Propaganda Minister?

Posted by: getjiggly1 | December 1, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Ah I see you live on the east coast. I live in the middle of the country. There is a two hour time difference between you and me. In-other-words it was 12:30 not 2:30 when I submitted my comment. I was at lunch--I don't get paid by the Government to eat so I was ON MY OWN TIME. It's after work for me now so I'm still ON MY OWN TIME.

As to my 37 years in Government, some of it was in the military. I am a Vietnam-era veteran. (No I didn't put in 20 years so I'm not double dipping.) What have you done for your fellow countrymen and countrywomen?

I went into the military from the private sector. I worked at a big company where my boss, who wasn't paying my salary, told me to either run her personal errands on work time or be be fired.

What I would like to know is why are you so down on me. I do my job, pay my taxes, and love my country -- how about you?

Posted by: catskent | December 1, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Ah I see you live on the east coast. I live in the middle of the country. There is a two hour time difference between you and me. In-other-words it was 12:30 not 2:30 when I submitted my comment. I was at lunch--I don't get paid by the Government to eat so I was ON MY OWN TIME. It's after work for me now so I'm still ON MY OWN TIME.

As to my 37 years in Government, some of it was in the military. I am a Vietnam-era veteran. (No I didn't put in 20 years so I'm not double dipping.) What have you done for your fellow countrymen and countrywomen?

I went into the military from the private sector. I worked at a big company where my boss, who wasn't paying my salary, told me to either run her personal errands on work time or be be fired.

What I would like to know is why are you so down on me. I do my job, pay my taxes, and love my country -- how about you?

Posted by: catskent | December 1, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

I think the public needs to see the real numbers. Politicians seem to have brainwashed voters into believing that federal employees are overpaid. It's a farce. A federal employee makes at least 20% less than a person in the private sector doing the same type of job. Also, federal employees do not make overtime pay and are expected to go the distance and have pledged themselves as servants of this nation. With such dedication and faithfulness to the U.S. while doing everything and more than asked they should receive more respect. Unfortunately, politicians see federal employees as an easy mark and attack them.

Politicians don't mention appointees that are burrowed and paid high wages for the sake of partisanship and not true and dedicated work for citizens. Where's the reasoning here? Such waste needs to be eliminated.

The costly contracts given to big corporations are also wasteful. I think paying big business in return for campaign funding is completely wrong and not made public domain.

After decades of service in the government I've seen political desires overtake common sense and beneficial actions for the U.S. It's sad that the common federal employee has to be so abused. It appears to be a desperate move. This action only took the scratch of a pen, doesn't make the slightest dent in our debt, and seems to be an attack on wages. I don't believe that going after employees and their wages is what we need. We need new jobs; those infrastructure jobs/green jobs, not fewer. What happened to the jobs that were supposed to be returned to the U.S.?
They are still in communist China. Shouldn't they have been returned to the U.S. so our country can reinstate positive income like we had in the 1990s and not continue sending jobs to China, which carries a big stick and can tumble this nation's economy at any time? Address the real problem sensibly instead of attacking federal employees. The federal employee deserves much more, not less. It's a tough job; these skilled, knowledgeable, and faithful employees we have should be encouraged to stay not leave. Show some appreciation!!

Posted by: USDA | December 4, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

I have no problem with federal employees having to sacrifice a little to help set the right austerity example for the rest of the nation. But, why is Congrees, staffers and judges exempt. Are they better than the rest of us and is this their way of saying "LET THEM EAT CAKE".

Posted by: mpf1 | December 6, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

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