Evidently President Obama is taking the wrong message away from the midterms. This morning's announcement of a federal pay freeze sends exactly the wrong message and plays into Republicans' hands. Seriously, what is he thinking here?
The early reviews of President Obama's plan to freeze federal worker pay are in -- and it gets a resounding "F" from just about everybody outside of GOP leadership.
Michael Linden, a budget expert at the liberal Center for American Progress, said the plan is small potatoes that risks driving away valuable civil servants with little budgetary upside.
"Bluntly doing it this way, we risk cutting off our nose to spite our face," Linden said in a phone interview. "We risk not hiring good people, we risk not giving a raise to people who deserve a raise, and we miss not cutting the pay of those who deserve a pay cut."
That more or less sums it up.
Of course, it doesn't matter to Republicans, because nothing short of firing every federal employee would make them happy. Just after he was sworn in today, Senator Mark Kirk declared his first priority would be to control federal spending. Speaker-to-be John Boehner sang a chorus of "Too little, too late", claiming a pay freeze without a hiring freeze was just not enough.
Of course, these are the same hacks who posture and strut about how extending federal unemployment benefits just cannot -- CANNOT -- be done without some budget cut somewhere else so they are paid for while they speak out of the other side of their mouths (or body parts, depending) about how the Bush tax cuts must -- MUST -- be extended with no provision for paying for them.
If Obama is playing for moderate Republicans, he's doing it stupidly. First, the election is over, and it proved there is no such thing as a moderate Republican. The ones with any sense have run away from the Republican party entirely and the rest of them are just batsh*t crazy. There are no votes to win with this nonsense, so it's all just posturing for the sake of looking responsible.
If Obama really wants to look responsible, he can start by giving serious credibility to the progressive proposals rolled out today for deficit reduction. They're practical, smart ideas that deserve consideration equally with all others.
In the world of Washington DC, it seems everyone operates on an assumption that things will not ever improve. With proposals like this, it's no wonder they operate on that basis.
Someone needs to give the President lessons in listening for pitch and timbre, because this move has to be the most tone-deaf he's made yet.