November 30th, 2010
The campaign to paper over President Barack Obama’s big government tax-and-spend record with symbolic political triangulation has begun.
Yesterday, ahead of today’s meeting with House and Senate Republicans, President Obama attempted to preempt conservative calls for smaller government by announcing a Federal Employee Pay Freeze, which the White House says would save $2 billion over the rest of this fiscal year and $28 billion in cumulative savings over the next five years.
While the President’s political motivations are transparent to all, he should be congratulated on policy grounds for making two key concessions to reality: (1) that, as Heritage research has definitively shown, federal workers are paid more than their private sector counterparts even after accounting for skills and education; and (2) that our federal budget deficits are driven by a spending problem, not a revenue problem. That said, however, conservatives should be vigilant to make sure that the President’s federal pay proposals serve only as the beginning of negotiations and not as a false solution that prevents real federal pay reform next year.
A fact underreported by most newspapers today is that President Obama cannot freeze federal pay unilaterally.He is going to need Congress to act on his proposal, which calls for the freeze to begin effective January 1. This simply is not going to happen. Democrats still control both chambers of Congress, and the Democratic Party is controlled by government unions, which uniformly blasted the plan yesterday. With just one month left on the calendar to go, taking money away from the Democratic Party’s most powerful special interest group is just not going to make it onto an already very busy lame duck agenda.
Furthermore, President Obama’s freeze is really just a partial freeze that applies only to 2011 and 2012 cost of living increases.
- If Congress votes to freeze civilian federal pay, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D–MD) wants to freeze military pay for the sake of “fairness.”
- According to the CBO, TARP will end up costing taxpayers at least $25 billion.
- The Senate again failed to repeal Obamacare’s 1099 tax on small businesses last night.
- According to Gallup, most Americans prefer debt reduction to increasing taxes and spending.
- Which gets the biggest education bang for tax dollar buck, D.C. public schools or D.C. Opportunity Scholarships?
So in symbolism to look like bipartisan over debt reduction: Are Obama’s words just words?
Or will Obama TRUMP Congress once again by Executive Order?