The Symbolism of the Federal Worker Pay Freeze

by Douglas Holtz-Eakin

My first reaction to the pay freeze was: “I believe in symbolism too, but I believe in real action more.” But that is too easy and facile.

The reality is that this symbolism is clever political positioning. It sends the message to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid that yes, the president is willing to expose previously protected constituencies. The congressional Democratic leadership is now on notice that the rules have changed.

But more important, it allows Obama to look at the Republicans and say, “I did this. What will you do?”

Should be a fun meeting.

— Douglas Holtz-Eakin is president of the American Action Forum.