Obama to broaden top-level pay freeze

Fiscal 2011 budget will propose holding steady the salaries of high-ranking political appointees governmentwide.

With the economy still stagnant and the national deficit rising, the White House is planning to expand a freeze on top-level pay and bonuses, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

In addition to senior White House staff, the freeze -- which will be included in Obama's fiscal 2011 budget request -- will now apply to political appointees who are members of the Senior Executive Service, those paid through the Executive Schedule and ambassadors who are not career Foreign Service officers, according to an OMB official. In total, about 1,200 appointees won't see an annual raise in 2011 under the president's budget.

In addition to freezing pay, the budget request will extend a ban on bonuses for political appointees.

The official did not have specific numbers about how much money this would save the federal government, but noted the administration was "taking common-sense steps that every family and small business [is] taking with their budgets to make sure they're spending money wisely."

The announcement is one of several the Obama administration hopes will quell fears that the deficit is spiraling out of control. The administration also recently said it would propose a three-year freeze on discretionary, nonsecurity spending, though there would be exceptions.

In one of his first acts as president in early 2009, Obama announced he would hold level the pay of all senior White House employees making more than $100,000 annually, which was about 130 officials.

Carol A. Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executives Association, which represents mainly career civil servants but has some members who are political appointees, said she thought the expansion of the freeze was "appropriate." But she noted that in some cases it could cause problems for political appointees who supervise career employees.

"There aren't too many people who enjoy not receiving a raise when those who work for them do," Bonosaro said. "I know that [can] sometimes create a little friction."

NEXT STORY: Congress Giveth and Taketh Away