While Democrats wince and Republicans rejoice about President Obama's decision to place a two-year freeze on federal government workers' salaries, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh isn't buying the hype. (video via Fox Nation)
The president plans to meet tomorrow with congressional leaders of both parties to discuss the future of the Bush tax cuts. Could today's news of a federal pay freeze be just smoke and mirrors?
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., criticized the president's plan for not including military personnel in the pay freeze, claiming the extension would have increased savings and added "an element of fairness."
Meanwhile, ABC News' Jake Tapper notes that members of Congress and their staffs are exempt from the pay freeze, even though they will be the ones voting on it.
During Monday's White House press briefing, Tapper asked press secretary Robert Gibbs if the pay freeze meant President Obama agrees with his conservative detractors that the size of government is getting too large. Not so, said Gibbs:
TAPPER: Does the president believe that the size of the federal government is too big?
GIBBS: Well, let me say this, Jake, that we're in the process of putting forward -- putting together and ultimately releasing early next year a budget for the next fiscal year and which lays out several fiscal years beyond that. We have taken steps to, as you heard the president mention today, cut programs that are unnecessary and unwise, and believes that we should -- we have to continue to do that. Our government should be lean and efficient. And the actions that the president outlined today and the actions that he has outlined in both previous budgets and in future budgets will meet that test.
TAPPER: But doesn't the president believe that you can't really get ahold of the deficit or the debt unless you actually start making cuts in programs that are necessary and wise?
GIBBS: I don't -- I don't think a -- I think there is a whole host of decisions -- as -- again, as you heard the president say -- that are going to have to be made in the next year or two years or three years to address a problem that took us many years to get -- to get into.
Jake, I think it -- look, the president did not say today that this action alone will solve our deficit problems. There are a series of actions alone that won't solve our deficit problems, but we have to make a series of collective and very difficult decisions to get our fiscal house in order. Obviously, the deficit and debt commission will come back later this week, and the president will get a chance to -- and the team here -- to evaluate where we are in that process as we create a budget going forward.
And despite being a two-year freeze, the White House is claiming the plan will save the country $60 billion over the next ten years.