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Federal pay freeze is a good first step
If President Obama didn't already have a fat lip from his basketball accident, more than one of his employees might have liked to give him one.
Even the people responsible for his safety, the Secret Service, will have to get by without raises for the next two years, if Obama's proposal is approved by Congress.
Skeptics think the proposed freeze -- which would save $28 billion over the next five years, yet hardly put a dent in the total federal debt of $13.7 trillion -- is more about the Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives than about fiscal responsibility.
"The hard truth is getting this deficit under control is going to require some broad sacrifice, and that sacrifice must be shared by the employees of the federal government," Obama said. "I'm asking civil servants to do what they've always done," he added. "Play their part."
Incoming speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner agreed with the pay-freeze proposal, but said it should be followed up with a federal hiring freeze. Otherwise, "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," Boehner said.
A pay freeze is certainly appropriate in light of the nation's fiscal condition, as a hiring freeze would be as well.
If federal employees were truly to share in the pain of the average worker, however, 9 percent of them -- the current national unemployment rate -- would be laid off.