President Obama is announcing today a 2-year federal employee pay freeze. This will save about $28 Billion over 5 years, and $60 Billion over 10 years.
This is a beloved policy of Conservatives, and the President has now played this card. Politically, they cannot play it now, though apparently they must pass it. It is a modest savings, but it is a savings of federal spending. Of course, it is a reduction of peoples wages and therefore their ability to spend as well....
It is possible that this move is related to the looming vote of the President's Fiscal Commission which is due to come on Dec. 1. Perhaps a deal is in the offing and some members of the Commission wanted a public move by the President to show that he is serious?
We need to develop a long term plan for a balanced budget, and the Bowles/Simpson 'chairman's mark' is a good place to start. And Liberal/progressive deficit reduction plans are starting to proliferate. Of course, Conservatives have long talked about deficit reduction and balanced budgets, but they have mostly talked about it and not acted. It would be good for the country, and good politically for the President, to call the bluff of conservatives and begin to seriously engage the difficult work of developing a plan for a balanced budget.