WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is announcing a two-year pay freeze for federal employees Monday, a move White House officials say is the first of many difficult decisions that must be made to reduce the nation's mounting deficit.
The freeze will apply to all civilian federal employees, including those working at the Department of Defense, but will not affect military personnel, the White House said. The freeze is expected to result in more than $5 billion in savings over two years, said Jeffrey Zients, a deputy director at the Office of Management and Budget.
That would make only a small dent in the $1 trillion-plus budget deficit. But with voters voicing their anger over Washington's spending during the midterm elections, even a symbolic gesture could demonstrate the White House got the message.
Although the freeze is necessary in order to put the country on sound fiscal footing, the president recognizes the impact it will have on federal employees, Zients said.
"The president is clearly asking them to make a sacrifice," he said. "We believe it is the first of many difficult steps ahead."
The chairman of Obama's bipartisan deficit commission has proposed a three-year freeze in pay for most federal employees as part of its plan to reduce the nation's growing deficit. The commission's final report is to be released this week.
Shortly after taking office in January 2009, Obama froze salaries of top White House aides. He proposed extending that freeze to political appointees across the government in last year's budget, and also eliminated bonuses for political appointees.
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