President Obama has proposed a two-year freeze on the pay of federal workers, to show he is attempting to rein in the deficit. But this was an idea Republicans had months ago. Politico reports:
Washington Democrats have antagonized House Minority Whip Eric Cantor with the nickname "Dr. No." But the White House may have to amend that to "Dr. Know" after reversing course and calling for the very same federal pay freeze Cantor promoted earlier this year with his oft-ridiculed YouCut program.
In the second week of balloting for YouCut — an Web initiative that solicits public opinion on budget cuts— online voters picked freezing government salaries as the best possible federal savings.
At the time, Obama's fiscal 2011 budget envisioned a 1.4 percent cost of living adjustment for federal workers. But instead, the administration announced Monday that wages would be frozen at current levels for the next two years, producing a cost savings of $2 billion or likely less than two-tenths of one percent of the deficit for the year.
Cantor said he is "pleased that President Obama is ready to join our efforts. I am encouraged by President Obama's proposal to freeze non-military federal pay for the next two years. This past May, House Republicans, prompted by YouCut voters, offered the very same spending-cut proposal on the floor of the House," Cantor said in a statement to POLITICO.
In a broader sense, the president's embrace of a GOP policy that goes straight to the ideological divide between the parties could be an early sign of White House efforts to move toward the political center in advance of the 2012 election.
It certainly creates a fissure between the president and his own party's union contingent — though early response from Democratic officials in Congress carried a tone of disappointment rather than outrage.