White House says pay freeze proposal was not a bargaining chip

The timing of President Obama's proposal to freeze federal workers' salaries for two years was based on the fact that decisions need to be made by the end of the month, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in Monday's press briefing. It was not, he said, made in anticipation of Obama's meeting with congressional leadership Tuesday or proposals from his deficit commission that are expected Wednesday.

"I will say that I think whether it's freezing the pay of federal employees, whether it's looking for efficiency or waste -- this is an area under which Democrats and Republicans ought to be able to work together," he said.

Gibbs pushed back against the idea that the proposal was meant as a bargaining chip that could be used to extract concessions from Republicans, even when reporters questioned the wisdom of making the decision in public rather than discussing it behind closed doors with Republican leadership, a move that has angered some on the left.

"I think on a daily basis we anger many people. That comes with the job of governing. The president makes a series of decisions that he thinks are in the best interest of the country, not focused on the next election but the next generation," Gibbs said.

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