Obama’s long overdue announcement of a federal pay freeze came as a welcome surprise to many. However, it was not greeted exclusively with enthusiasm (unfortunately). The problem with cutting the budget is that no cut provides a neutral impact. Every spending cut will produce losers in some segment of the population. It is a fantasy to assume that we can cut our federal deficit and in some way not feel the repercussions. If we are truly serious about cutting the budget, we all have to willing to make some sacrifices.
That being said, the first of many temper tantrums erupted today at Obama’s announcement to freeze federal pay for 2 years:
Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said she disagreed with Obama’s decision.
The union “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,” Kelley said. The union represents more than 150,000 federal employees nationwide.
This kind of self absorbed behavior is what prevents the government from making tough decisions. The unions claim to be cognizant of “economic circumstance,” and yet, when the measures taken to rectify these circumstances adversely affect their interests such understanding seems not to matter. You’d better believe they would look the other way if Congress raised taxes on the upper 2% of America. You’d better believe they would ignore measures to increase our corporate tax rate. But to freeze federal employee pay? That is certainly going too far…
Undoubtedly, the proposal was submitted due to enormous pressure from the GOP to pursue a new course of fiscal responsibility. We should be hopeful that this suggestion is merely the beginning of good things to come in terms of controlling spending. Perhaps Obama has come around to understand that the problem is not actually the message, but the policy. At least, there is that hope. The proposal will save $2 billion for 2011 and $28 billion over the next five years. Other union comments:
John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, blasted the announcement, calling it “a superficial, panicked reaction to the deficit commission report.”
“This pay freeze amounts to nothing more than political public relations,” Gage said in a statement, suggesting government nurses, border patrol agents and other personnel are being unfairly targeted for Democratic election losses.
The problem with the pay freeze is that it does not go far enough. It only impacts non-military personnel. The news flash here is that it will be impossible to cut the deficit unless we tackle military spending. Period. No one can be spared from attempts to balance the budget, least of all the department in which we spend the most money.
But then we come back to the beginning again. Will those with close associations to the military accept the sacrafices necessary to enact positive change? We also need to address social security and medicaid. Will the elderly accept poposals to reduce benefits and increase the retirement age? A truly dedicated plan for cutting out deficit will leave no one untouched, and we must all be willing to make sacrifices in order to support our nation.