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Obama Plans Pay Freeze For Federal Workers

Saying "we need to turn our attention to addressing the massive deficits we inherited and the unsustainable fiscal course that we are on," the Obama administration is this morning formally announcing a two-year pay freeze for all civilian federal employees.

The president is due to talk about the decision at 11:35 a.m. ET. The White House plans to stream his remarks here.

According to a "fact-sheet" that the White House sent to reporters this morning, the pay freeze will "save $2 billion for the remainder of FY 2011, $28 billion over the next five years, and more than $60 billion over the next 10 years."

As NPR's John Ydstie reported today on Morning Edition, the federal debt now stands at $14 trillion. The federal budget deficit (the annual gap between spending and revenue) was $1.6 trillion in fiscal year 2010 and is expected to dip to "only" $706 billion by fiscal 2014.

The White House calls such a pay freeze "the first of many actions we will take in the upcoming budget to put our nation on sound fiscal footing -- which will ask for some sacrifice from us all."

It also emphasized in its fact sheet that the freeze "will apply to all civilian federal employees, including those in various alternative pay plans and those working at the Department of Defense -- but not military personnel."

Update at 12:15 p.m. ET. The president just made his announcement. "The hard truth is that getting this deficit under control is going to require some broad sacrifices," he said, adding that "I'm asking civil servants to do what they've always done and play their part."

He also used his remarks to preview a meeting he'll have later this week with Republican and Democratic Congressional leaders. After this month's elections, which gave Republicans control of the House, "we now have a shared responsibility to deliver for the America people," the Democratic president said.

"Everybody's going to have to cooperate," Obama added. It's time, he said, to reject "old ideologies" and "stale sound bites."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.