Remarks by the President on the Federal Employee Pay Freeze

White House Photo By Chuck KennedyWashington, DC…THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  Good morning, everybody.  Let me begin by pointing out that although Washington is supposed to be a town of sharp elbows, it’s getting a little carried away.  For those of you who are worried about my lip, I should be okay.  The doctor has given me a clean bill of health, and I will continue to be playing basketball whenever I get a chance.  In fact, I played yesterday with Sasha and Malia and they took it easy on me because they were feeling pity.

rkers.  This would save $2 billion over the rest of this fiscal year and $28 billion in cumulative savings over the next five years.  And I want to be clear:  This freeze does not apply to the men and women of our Armed Forces, who along with their families continue to bear enormous burdens with our nation at war.

I did not reach this decision easily.  This is not just a line item on a federal ledger.  These are people’s lives.  They’re doctors and nurses who care for our veterans; scientists who search for better treatments and cures; men and women who care for our national parks and secure our borders and our skies; Americans who see that the Social Security checks get out on time, who make sure that scholarships comes through, who devote themselves to our safety.  They’re patriots who love their country and often make many sacrifices to serve their country.

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.

Going forward, we’re going to have to make some additional very tough decisions that this town has put off for a very long time.  And that’s what this upcoming week is really about.  My hope is that, starting today, we can begin a bipartisan conversation about our future, because we face challenges that will require the cooperation of Democrats, Republicans and Independents.  Everybody is going to have to cooperate.  We can’t afford to fall back onto the same old ideologies or the same stale sound bites.  We’re going to have to budge on some deeply held positions and compromise for the good of the country.  We’re going to have to set aside the politics of the moment to make progress for the long term.  And as I’ve often said, we’re going to have to think not just about the next election, but about the next generation, because if there’s anything the American people said this month, it’s that they want their leaders to have one single focus:  making sure their work is rewarded so that the American Dream remains within their reach.  It would be unwise to assume they prefer one way of thinking over another.  That wasn’t the lesson that I took when I entered into office, and it’s not the lesson today.

So while our ideas may be different, our goals must be the same — growing this economy, putting people back to work, and securing the dream for all who work for it; to summon what’s best for each of us to make lives better for all of us.  And that’s why we are here and that’s why we serve.  That’s how we’ve moved this country forward in the past — and I’m absolutely confident that that is how we are going to move this country forward once again.

Thank you very much, everybody.