By Stephen Dinan-The Washington Times
Calling it a starting point for a looming showdown on budget cuts, President Obama on Monday demanded a two-year pay freeze for federal civilian workers, aligning himself with congressional Republicans and against his labor union allies who warned that the freeze would “stick it” to the government work force.
“The hard truth is that getting this deficit under control is going to require broad sacrifice, and that sacrifice must be shared by the employees of the federal government,” Mr. Obama said, upping the ante on House Republicans, who had pushed earlier this year for a one-year freeze.
Mr. Obama’s plan, which must be approved by Congress, would stop automatic raises for federal employees for fiscal years 2011 and 2012, and would save $60 billion over a 10-year budget cycle, the White House said.
The plan was announced two days before the deadline for Mr. Obama’s deficit commission to submit its report proposing broader fiscal and tax policy changes, with the two parties jockeying to claim leadership on budget cutting.
“This is exactly the kind of savings measure we have to make in order to begin to restore some fiscal sanity in America,” said Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the man Republicans have designated to be the majority leader when the GOP takes the reins in the House next year.
But it says much about the changed attitude in Washington that both Republicans and Democrats in Congress sought to go further than the president’s plan.
Rep. John A. Boehner, the Ohio Republican in line to become the next House speaker, asked Mr. Obama to build on the freeze by also halting federal hiring.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, said Mr. Obama’s proposed freeze also should include the military.
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