President Trump announced Thursday he would freeze pay for federal workers in order to “maintain efforts to put our nation on a fiscally sustainable course,” he said in a letter to congressional leaders today.
The freeze for civilian workers comes soon after Trump signed a military spending bill that approved a 2.6 percent increase in pay for service members and after the Senate passed a spending bill that would have boosted federal pay by 1.9 percent.
Keeping a lid on federal wages in the midst of an expanding economy and tightening job market could make it even harder to retain workers, as outside employers are much more free to offer raises.
Federal pay was also frozen from 2011 through 2013, thanks partially to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives that insisted on extending a pay freeze that President Obama had cancelled through an executive order as part of passing an appropriations bill. Obama was, however, able to bump pay by just over 2 percent for 2017.
The lamenting of the deteriorating fiscal stance of the federal government is, ahem, a bit rich, as Trump has been opening the taps on spending, especially on the military, while also slashing taxes, leading to substantial growth in the federal deficit despite the fact we’re in the midst, as Trump would gleefully remind us, of a strong economic expansion.