Rep. Connolly: Pay freeze unfair to feds

Tuesday - 11/30/2010, 5:15pm EST

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.)

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Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said he is "puzzled" about why President Obama has singled out federal pay among all of the recommendations by the deficit reduction commission.

"Why would you ... just pick out one item and not the most effective in terms of reducing the deficit?" Connolly said in an interview with the DorobekINSIDER.

In the face of a $14 trillion deficit, the two-year freeze would save $2 billion.

Despite his belief that the proposal was "not a thoughtful approach" to reducing the deficit, Connolly said he thinks the freeze will pass Congress.

"Given the tectonic shift that took place in the Nov. 2 election, I would say the climate of receptivity and sympathy for the federal workforce is significantly diminished," Connolly said.

The proposal for a freeze sends a negative message -- perhaps inadvertently -- about the federal workforce, feeding into the "demagogic rhetoric" in some midterm races, he said.

If federal workers continue to be a target for cost-cutting, Connolly said he is worried about the future of recruiting and retaining the federal workforce of the future.

Connolly said he believes feds understand that some sacrifices are due in this economy. However, "across the board" decisions and a "consequences be damned" attitude ultimately won't serve the public, he said.

"I don't think for a minute that the federal workforce sees itself as exempt from some sacrifice to address the federal deficit. We all have a part to play," Connolly said. "But neither do I think they think they should be unfairly singled out as the symbol of federal spending and the symbol of federal deficit reduction."

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