This might be the stupidest thing I've ever heard Obama say. Just an insultingly blatant attempt to appeal to teabaggers -- who will never support him anyway, because he's a Democrat, and black, to boot:
Facing Republican complaints about big government and federal salaries, President Obama said Friday that government agencies might leave some vacancies unfilled as his administration looks for ways to save money.
He did not rule out furloughing employees, as some states have, but he warned that such action could result in a loss of services for taxpayers.
Speaking to members of the Trotter Group, an organization of black columnists, Obama addressed a range of subjects, including election momentum and campaign financing, the economy and the District's schools.
Obama deflected complaints from Republicans on Capitol Hill and conservative think tanks that federal employees are overpaid.
He said his team has examined pay levels, "and the data we get back indicates that high-skilled workers in government are slightly underpaid. Lower-skilled workers are slightly overpaid relative to the private sector.
"And that's not surprising," he added, "because it's a unionized workforce" in government, while the private sector's typically is not.
Nonetheless, Obama said that just as people and companies have had to be cautious about spending, "government should have to tighten its belt as well. We need to do it in an intelligent way. We need to make sure we do things smarter, rather than just lopping something off arbitrarily without having thought it through."
Obama has asked agencies to develop plans for cutting budgets by 5 percent. But how that would be accomplished would be decided on a case-by-case basis, he said.
"In some cases, they may say we don't need to fill vacancies," he said.
Obama said he wants to achieve "the best possible service at the lowest possible price to taxpayers."
Could I just point out something relevant here?
The difference between government and the private sector is that a business owner looks for ways to get a product or service to market that are just good enough they won't be rejected by consumers -- or get him sued. So he cuts corners, often compromising quality and safety (but hey, there's always a chance the Republicans will take over and he won't have to worry about pesky things like that, anyway!) so he can put more money in his own pocket, and that of shareholders. So private sector employees are supposed to turn out the highest possible volume at the fastest possible speed, at the lowest possible wages, with marginal quality. (Mortgage documentation, anyone?)
Government employees, on the other hand, work within a system that, until rather recently, placed the highest premium on correct procedures and compliance with federal regulation. No special emphasis on speed, because that would compromise the need for correctness. For example, you really don't want someone who's inspecting food manufacturers to be rushing through his or her work.
When they started to outsource government jobs to the private sector, that's when quality, compliance and effective oversight went out the window. Far too many of the federal jobs that remain are infected by that "running government like a business" mentality. We see the effects of it in lax oversight everywhere.
So please, President Obama, don't even go there. Businesses are only using the economic crisis as protective cover to fire workers and stockpile cash, not because they have to "tighten their belts." That's the first thing.
The second is, we have millions of Americans out of work, and the interest rates on the deficit are extremely low. This is exactly the right time to expand the federal workforce, not cut it.
Please stop pandering to these people. We won't respect you for it, and it won't help Americans who so badly need jobs.