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November 29, 2010

Obama: Now That I've Run The Federal Payroll Up To Historic Levels,, Let's Freeze Their Pay

Awww....the poor non-defense federal employees aren't going to get their scheduled raises for two years. My heart bleeds.

Bowing to growing budget concerns and months of Republican political pressure on federal pay and benefits, President Obama today announced he would stop pay increases for most of the two million people who work for the federal government.

The freeze applies to all Executive Branch workers -- including civilian employees of the Defense Department, but does not apply to military personnel, government contractors, postal workers, members of Congress, Congressional staffers, or federal court judges and workers.

"Getting this deficit under control is going to require some broad sacrifices and that sacrifice must be shared by the employees of the federal government," Obama said in a speech Monday afternoon explaining the decision. He added, "I did not reach this decision easily, this is not a line item on a federal ledger, these are people's lives."

The decision will save about 30 Billion over the next 5 years.

Here's my thought...not good enough. Not even close.

Obama has run up the size of the federal workforce to historic levels. There are now more federal employees making more than $150,000/year than ever before and all we are doing is eliminating some raises?

That's not even a good start.

Incoming Speaker Boehner says okay but now let's do something more important.

“I welcome President Obama’s announcement, and hope he will build on it by embracing much-needed steps to reduce both the size and the cost of government, including the net federal hiring freeze Republicans propose in our Pledge to America. Without a hiring freeze, a pay freeze won’t do much to rein in a federal bureaucracy that added hundreds of thousands of employees to its payroll over the last two years while the private sector shed millions of jobs.

“Today’s action is a clear indication that the Pledge to America, which lays out concrete steps to cut spending and reduce the size of government, is the right plan to address the people’s priorities. Republicans and Democrats don’t have to wait until January to cut spending and stop all the tax hikes. We can – and should – start right now.”

Again...no good enough. Start firing people. Start closing down programs, offices and whole agencies. Yes, even then, it's a drop in the ocean without entitlement reform. But here's my thing...I'm not as concerned about balancing the budget as an end. To me it's about shrinking the reach and influence of government in and over our lives. It might be possible to devise some strategy to balance the budget and save entitlements at their current levels or near there and that would be a disaster.. A balanced budget (at a much lower percentage of GDP) is simply a pleasant by-product of getting the government back in the box it belongs in. Do that and let free people take care of their own business.

The politics of this are interesting as well.

Republicans aren't going to be impressed and Democrats are already whining that he's hurting his allies and giving into Republicans.

Here's some union reaction.

Today, with Obama publically spurning their advances, they barely moderated their responses. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released a tart statement: "Today's announcement of a two-year pay freeze for federal workers is bad for the middle class, bad for the economy and bad for business. No one is served by our government participating in a 'race to the bottom' in wages." The head of the National Federation of Federal Employees, William Dougan, declared himself "deeply disappointed."

Meanwhile a front page poster at DKos is sick of Obama surrendering to the Republicans.

Confronted with the choice between making the tough decision to defend federal spending during a recession or to develop a plan to actually slash spending, President Gimmick takes a third way: pretending to do something. In the process, he concedes that he believes his critics are right on the merits, but far from signaling strength, he signals that he's too weak to do anything serious about it.

The worst thing about President Gimmick isn't that he plays politics, though. The worst thing about President Gimmick is that he's not very good at it.

Let's hope it doesn't take President Obama long to realize that President Gimmick isn't going to do him or the nation any good. And then he -- and we -- can put President Gimmick back in the closet, where he belongs.

Hey Kos guy...love the President Gimmick tag, well played.

Greg Sargent, one of the many in-house Democratic hacks at the Washington Post echoes the sentiment.

I actually agree with the DKos guy, though likely for different reasons, about Obama's ham-handed political skills. When Clinton triangulated he found the bits from both sides most people liked and took them as his own, even if the whole didn't add up or matter much. At least he was crafting majority support for something.

Obama on the other hand always seems to find the things both sides hates and adopts them as his own thus creating a majority the opposes him even if it is for very different reasons (think health care).

For a guy who was supposed to be so smart, he's pretty dumb. All I can say to our disgruntled liberal friends is...We Told You So!

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posted by DrewM. at 03:42 PM

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