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Posted at 2:24 PM ET, 12/ 3/2010

Obama: No military pay freeze

By Ed O'Keefe

Let there be no doubt: President Obama will not freeze the pay of military service members.

During his unannounced visit to Afghanistan, the president said those serving in uniform will not be subject to the pay freeze he ordered this week for the government's civilian employees.

"We will do whatever it takes to make sure that you have the strategy and the resources and the equipment and the leadership to get this done," Obama told troops Friday at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan. "You may have noticed that during these tough budget times, I took the step of freezing pay for our federal workforce. But because of the service that you render, all who wear the uniform of the United States of America are exempt from that action."

Obama called on Monday for a two-year pay freeze for most federal civilian employees to help address the government's mushrooming deficit. The decision came before a fiscal commission issued its final report to scale back deficit spending.

The decision puts him at odds with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and some federal labor union leaders who believe it is unfair to freeze the pay of civilians without asking for shared financial sacrifice from those in uniform.

The president's visit comes just days before he is expected to receive a review of the war efforts in Afghanistan.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | December 3, 2010; 2:24 PM ET
Categories:  Administration, Military, Workplace Issues  
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Our office has 50 plus non- DoD civilian in Afghanistan who will have their pay frozen and a half a dozen uniformed military working in our office here in DC who won't. Doesn't seem to show much thought by the White House.

Posted by: crete | December 3, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

There are quite a few civilians deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq and in some cases they have served more time than the military. I am not sure all of them will feel that freezing civilian pay and not military pay is right.

Posted by: tonywhitehead1 | December 3, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

The military is the only sacred cow left in the US gov't these days - no politician dares alter its compensation or criticize it in any way!

Posted by: NM1964 | December 3, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

This does not make sense whole cloth. How does this spur economic growth to surpress wages?

Is it good policy to pay people less than what they are worth--just becaause you can?

1/4 of the Fed workforce are Veterans, Do you (leadership) care about their contributions less when they no longer have a value in combat?

This will have a negative impact on this region allow billions of dollars.

But have little positive affect on the deficit.

There are now angry voters( and government employees are very faithful voters) who want an alternate option to both parties.

This strikes at the middle class when they are lobbying on the hill for the wealthy.

This is a talking point--that became policy. The poorest example of leadership (or lack thereof)and worst yet it has impact on millions of people and our economy and not one person came forward to speak up.

Posted by: CultureClub | December 3, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

The Deficit Commission did it correctly.

Military pay should be considered for freezing just like any other Federal expense. Combat pay (for military and civilians in war zones) should be should be raised.

Posted by: ad9inaz | December 3, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

The WH is not thinking. They are reacting emotionally. There are MDs at VA and NIH who will not stay because their (civilian) pay will be frozen. Not a wise outcome. If the WH froze the military, there would be outrage. Ergo, this is none about finance or practicality; all about politics and emotion.

Posted by: bert8 | December 3, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

It's been years since I've been in the military, but my guess is that the military pay shouldn't be frozen, especially in a time of war. Soldiers can come back with their arms or legs blown off, or worse. And we're sending them into harms way for Exxon-Mobil?

They probably deserve a pay raise, and then some.

Posted by: John991 | December 3, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Obama, Obama, I don't know what you're doing anymore.

So you freeze federal pay. Fine. I, as a federal employee, am happy to be part of some shared sacrifice for the sake of our nation.

What I don't like is being singled out. I could have swallowed the freeze a lot more easily if you had said, "Here is a set of difficult choices we have to make about the budget. Everyone will have to give something, including federal employees."

Instead, President and boss of the Executive Branch, you explained to the nation that the federal civil service, and only the federal civil service, would have to tighten its belt to restore fiscal discipline.

That makes no economic sense, since our $5 billion contribution will be overshadowed dozens and dozens of times over by the tax cuts you will not stand up against.

And this here, this really adds insult to injury. I do not support cutting military pay, but I strongly resent the idea that because the military renders "service," their pay will not be frozen.

I suppose that I do not render service in your eyes, Mr. President.

Thanks for the morale boost. I don't work in national security for the feds for the money. I do it because I love this country and want to help keep it safe. But since we're shrinking the federal workforce through attrition, meaning more work per analyst every time someone retires, and since our salaries are often (though not always, of course) lower than those of our private sector counterparts, and since we're the laughing stock of everyone from USA Today to the President of the United States, I think a lot of talent is going to walk.

This weekend, I intend to look up every consulting firm in town to take my years of national security experience and my security clearance to the private sector.

It's been nice working for you, Mr. President.

Posted by: js3705a | December 3, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

this guy is on target here. dont sheet where u eat

Posted by: pofinpa | December 3, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

This is as it should be. Nor should veterans' benefits be cut.

Posted by: tinyjab40 | December 3, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

By the way, I do not support cutting the military pay at all. My objections is to what message he is sending to his federal work force about their value--who by all accounts are still underpaid.

A doctor for NIH and a doctor for private company is still a doctor--do not think you will get away with paying him/her less because there it is a bad economy. That will greatly impact the care you are able to provide the tax payer.

And less say you are able to do so--that undermines the value of their education which has a ripple effect on the economy that even Wall Street would not be happy about.

The Obama administration lacks a center. They are so willingly to compromise they make Gumbi look like he is built of steel.

He can stand on voters, stand on federal employees but won't stand up to Republicans. That shows lack of fortitude when you won't stand up for those who needs you most.

Posted by: CultureClub | December 3, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Civilians in war zones, who are side by side with military forces, will not get pay raises. But their danger will be just as great.

The distinction "civilian" or "militay" does not mean what it once did.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | December 3, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse


our armed forces in uniform

and is Glad THEIR PAY IS not FROZEN

but a federal pay freeze of federal civilian workers

is NOT enough

america demands



overpaid employees

feeding at the federal trough be


Posted by: ProCounsel | December 3, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

How nice of our President to freeze the pay of American employees when he is at liberty to spend as much as he likes on himself or his family. Has he offered to take any amount of a pay cut for the good of his country? Set a good example Mr.President!

Posted by: cmccarterconst | December 3, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

I wrote on July 27, 2010:-
I am India's expert in strategic defence and the father of India's strategic program, including the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program. I have shown in my blog titled 'Nuclear Supremacy For India Over U.S.', which can be found by a Yahoo search with the title, that all terrorism and insurgencies in the Indian subcontinent and in much of the rest of the world is sponsored by the C.I.A. Both Pakistan's ISI and India's RAW function as branches of the C.I.A. and participate in terrorism and insurgencies throughout the Subcontinent, under direction of the C.I.A. Yes, the ISI secretly supports the Taliban but it does so under direction from the C.I.A. whose modus operandi is support for ALL sides of a conflict to control the course of the conflict in service of its own goals. The goal of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and partial occupation of Pakistan is eventual occupation and overt colonial rule over the Subcontinent as a whole. This will not be permitted and all those participating in this enterprise, including the U.K., will be duly punished; see my blog. The document leak currently in the news has been made in preparation for abandonment of this goal and withdrawal from Afghanistan because of steps I have already taken for the nuclear destruction of New Delhi and then the coast-to-coast destruction of the United States by India with 5,000 thermonuclear warheads and extermination of its population; see my blog. Satish Chandra

Posted by: SatishChandra | December 3, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

I say we freeze all the members of the new Congress, the prez, the VP and all political appointees, We will just tell them its an experiment to terrorism and that they will be unfrozen in less then 5 minutes with no damage done. We then leave it up to GS6 whose salary the prez froze to throw the switch to unfreeze them. Since Congress hasnt passed the pay freeze and prez hasnt signed it what are the odds the Fed will unfreeze them. Oh and we use low bid equipment.

Posted by: lotusxidriver | December 3, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Not surprising. If you freeze the pay of the military, how could you expect to entice 18 year olds to enlist, and how could you expect experienced officers and enlisted to stay? If the war was so important, taxes would have been raised to pay for it, and the draft would have been reinstated. No one did that, because Bush/Cheney knew that they would have lost before anything started. And everyone fell for the Bush/Cheney deception, hook, line, and sinker.

Posted by: Frazil | December 3, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

There is an abundance of military right now. While I agree that the active duty military should not have to take the pay freeze their 20 years and out retirement needs to be on the table. It's way past time to start dealing with that. Let me tell you that the perks are generous although you will find few career military to admit it. It's only once they are out they realize how good they had it. (Tricare, PX, Commisary, resorts, standby flights, and pensions). Once we have troops home from Afghanistan it's time to trim the military perks but I'm not saying to balance the budget totally on their backs. It's just time to share the pain with the rest of America.

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | December 3, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Barry the inept bungler pats himself on the back and looks for applause for killing his own proposal -- a three year pay freeze for armed services members. That means if Barry the lame duck president thought he could get away with stiffing our troops, he and the Dims in Congress would have stiffed our troops.

Miserable failure Obama

Posted by: screwjob22 | December 3, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

I am a DoD civilian and I am against the civilian pay freeze, although I will survive. some thoughts: Civilians deployed to AF and IZ get up to 35% hazard pay 35% post pay, night and holiday differential and work 80 hours a week. So Freezing COLA is not a nghtmare for these folks..

Now for GS-7's and less... it is a big deal, and this should at least not target lower grade employees

Posted by: keirreva | December 3, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Note that Steny Hoyer the Dim who is "House majority leader" ... for one more month ... is completely in favor of freezing the pay of our military members for three years. That is the Dim position in a nutshell.

"We support the troops until it is time to pay them."

Posted by: screwjob22 | December 3, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Why doesn't the government consider freezing pay for all of the government contractors. They drink from the same well the federal employees drink. There is WAY more money to be saved there!

Posted by: TD52 | December 3, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Why doesn't the government consider freezing pay for all of the government contractors. They drink from the same well the federal employees drink. There is WAY more money to be saved there!

Posted by: TD52 | December 3, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

This is a totally spineless decision. We all know the immense sacrifice some (yes, some...not all) military make. No one wants guys and gals getting blown up to be pinched. But that's a bogus strawman. That's not the whole military. For every troop on the frontlines there's probably a general officer sitting in a cushy, spacious office in Arlington and a couple clerical types who'll never, ever see a battlefield. Meanwhile, there are civilians working side by side with the military in the war zones. The mere fact of wearing a uniform to work everyday doesn't alone make your service more honorable or your sacrifice greater than someone who doesn't wear a uniform to work.

They should ABSOLUTELY freeze pay for everyone - civilian and military alike - then use some of those savings to boost combat/danger pay and improve services for folks returning from the war zones. It shocks me that so many people are profoundly ignorant of what the military's really like - 'tooth-to-tail' ratio totally out of whack - and so quick to dismiss the immense sacrifices many civilians make. Frankly, lumping all military together is disrespectful to the minority in uniform who are REALLY in harms way (in comparison to some desk-jockey in Ohio) as well as the thousands of brave civilians who volunteer to serve in combat zones.

Come on, Obama. You should know better.

Posted by: DEFPOTEC1 | December 3, 2010 11:21 PM | Report abuse

As a federal employee, I have no problem with a freeze. I am in public service, and it is my job to serve the public interests. However, I have two problems with this freeze. First, federal employees have been singled out, and President Obama has now denigrated our service.

I have voted for the Democratic Presidential candidate my entire life. At this point, I would be unable to vote for Obama. I doubt the Republic Party would espouse my views any better. I need a third party to vote for, because Obama has lost my vote.

Posted by: dr_jones | December 4, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I find it interesting that as an Air Reserve Technican (ART) I must wear my MILITARY UNIFORM to work as a CIVILIAN everyday and I'm paid as a Civil Servant. Despite what the President stated in the speech. I'm pretty sure we won't get a COLA raise for the next 2 years.
"the president said those serving in uniform will not be subject to the pay freeze "

Posted by: shelbysaab | December 4, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

There has been enough discrimination between civilian & military employees; no more is needed. Let's be fair and share the burden together.

Posted by: hiddengun | December 4, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

I find the ignorance of most people commenting on this article disgusting. If some of you truly think civilians share the same burden while overseas you are dead wrong. Unlike soldiers they don't share living quarters, unlike soldiers they can violate their contract whenever they please (soldiers face sever punishments for abandoning their enlistment contract), their pay is exponentially higher than a military members, they have far fewer restrictions placed on them while overseas, their work schedule in my experience is much easier than my work schedule, and the list goes on. All the while they are sucking up the free housing, free food, and tax benefits of people in uniform. I'm sorry if I don't feel bad for someone who has less experience than me at my job but getting paid over three times what I get paid. DOD civilians deployed are doing just fine give your sympathy to someone who needs it because it most certainly is not them.

Now, there are other federal employees who fall into a different category. I am simply explaining clear cut, undeniable, unquestionable truth about the DOD civilians I am working with RIGHT NOW in Iraq.

My only point is to INFORM some individuals of their ignorance help direct their misguided sympathy to someone it might actually benefit.

Posted by: vw2nut4 | December 5, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Although members of the military are already making their sacrifices in another way, no mention is made of the fact that MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, FEDERAL JUDGES AND THEIR STAFFS ARE ALSO EXEMPT FROM THE PAY FREEZE. This fact has been conveniently overlooked in almost all of the press releases regarding the pay freeze.

Members of Congress also get an AUTOMATIC pay raise unless they vote against it. That way they can tell their constituents "I didn't vote myself a pay raise."

Makes one want to vomit.

Posted by: eliasgus | December 6, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

The handful of civilians in war zones are well compensated for it. The napping bureaucracy shouldn't get a raise on their account.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | December 6, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

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