Via the White House pool report:
President Obama formally announced on Monday that his administration is seeking a two-year freeze on federal pay in an effort to trim billions of dollars off the deficit.
“I did not reach this decision easily,” the President said, in remarks before pooled press. “This is not just a line item on the federal ledger. These are people’s lives… In these challenging times we want the best and brightest to join and make a difference but these are also times where all of us are called on to make some sacrifices. And I’m asking civil servants to do what they’ve always done: play their part.”
Appearing in a nondescript conference room in the Old Executive Office Building, the President did not address the leaking of sensitive diplomatic cables by the site Wikileaks, despite your pooler’s best efforts to get him to do so.
POTUS was wearing a dark blue suit and lighter blue tie. A scar was visible on his lower lip (left side), the product of an elbow he took to the mouth during a pick-up basketball game last week.
“The doctor has given me a clean bill of health,” said the President, “and I will continue to be playing basketball.”
On the pay freeze:
The main focus of the morning statement, however, was the federal pay freeze that the administration is calling on Congress to pass.
The President stressed that the plan to freeze the salaries of federal employees for two years would save the country $28 billion over the next five and $60 billion over the coming decade. He acknowledged that his proposal represented a sacrifice for government workers (all of whom will be affected by the freeze, save military personnel).
“The hard truth is that getting this deficit under control is going to require some broad sacrifice and that sacrifice must be shared by the employees of the federal government,” he said.
On Tuesday’s summit:
The President began his remarks by reiterating his hopes for resolution to the debates over the expiring Bush tax cuts and the START treaty. He called Tuesday’s meeting with congressional Republican leadership an important moment in structuring a bipartisan legislative process on these and other fronts.
“I’m looking forward to sitting down with republican leaders tomorrow to discuss many issues,” said the President. “My hope is tomorrow’s meeting will mark a first step towards a new and productive working relationship because we now have a shared responsibility to deliver for the American people.
The entire statement lasted roughly eight minutes. It started about 30 minutes past its scheduled time, which had been 11:35 p.m. Obama read from prepared remarks on the lectern, though two teleprompters appeared to be available, just not in use.