President Obama’s plan for a two year freeze on the salaries of federal workers won praise from Republicans, a wary reaction from Democrats and outrage from liberals in the blogosphere.
“Millions of Americans are out of work, and many are tightening their belts; Federal employees must be no different,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the #2 Democrat in the House.
But Hoyer made clear he did not like the exemption proposed by the President, which would allow pay increases for those serving in the military, but not for civilians working for the Pentagon.
“It would have produced significantly more savings had that sacrifice been shared between Federal civilian and military personnel–with a strong exception for the members of our military and civilian employees risking their lives on our behalf in Afghanistan, Iraq, and anywhere else they are serving in harm’s way,” said Hoyer.
It should be noted that Hoyer – a Congressman from the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., probably has a lot of federal employees in his district.
Republicans meanwhile talked about how they proposed the same thing last year, and encouraged the President to come up with more than this plan, which the White House said would save $5 billion over two years.
“Americans are fed up with a government that spends too much, borrows too much and grows too much,” said Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), who will take over Hoyer’s job in the new Congress on January 5.
While the GOP pushed ahead with an argument that all but dared the President to find more cuts, more liberal supporters of the President took to the internet with a message that would certainly cause frowns at the White House.
“I’m so disappointed in him right now I want to cry,” wrote one person at the more liberal web site Daily Kos, as dozens vented their feelings on a post that said a freeze on government pay would mean one thing in the next election, less votes for Democrats.
“Will the Obama administration never cease undercutting the Democratic party, and driving away Democratic voters?” asked another?
“Just what the Hell is the administration thinking?” chimed in one more Democrat, as the barbs rained down from computer keyboards around the country, accusing the President of giving away too much to Republicans without getting anything in return.
“I am not voting for a guy whose idea of balancing the budget is to take it out on working people who already earn too little,” wrote someone else.
“Yet another example of how this president is selling out the left to capitulate to reactionary extremists who want to coddle the wealthy at the expense of the working class,” wrote one more, who then dropped an F-bomb about the White House.
All the squealing and kicking on the internet raises an interesting question – will there be a challenge to Obama from the Left in 2012?
If there is a serious effort to do that, history is not good for Presidents who have to endure such a primary challenge from the dominant wing of their party.
Just ask the first President Bush who had to deal with Pat Buchanan in 1992 and Jimmy Carter, who fought off a tough challenge from Ted Kennedy in 1980.