The Blog

Remember When Obama Froze White House Salaries?

1:05 PM, Dec 11, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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In light of USA Today's bombshell report on the explosive growth in salaries among federal employees over the last 18 months (i.e. the 18 months in which the U.S. economy saw its worst collapse since the Great Depression), it's perhaps worth a flashback to January 21, 2009, when President Obama made news by assuring the nation that his administration would make the kind of financial sacrifices that such tough economic times demand:

On his first full day in office President Obama froze the salaries of his senior staff and imposed tough new rules for lobbying and for releasing public information....

But at a staff meeting to swear in top aides, Obama dropped a bombshell. He was freezing their salaries.

"During this period of economic emergency, families are tightening their belts, and so should Washington," Obama told the assembled staff.

During this period of economic emergency, Washington has done a lot of things - belt-tightening is not one of them. And as the Obama administration presses for greater scrutiny of salaries on Wall Street, quite reasonably in the case of banks that have been bailed out by the taxpayers, shouldn't there also be some scrutiny of how these federal employees - whose salaries are drawn entirely from taxpayer dollars - came to earn such spectacular pay raises at a time when federal revenues are down?