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Obama freezes employees' pay

Narayan Lakshman

Washington: United States President Barack Obama has announced a far-reaching freeze on the pay of all federal government employees for the next two years, the clearest sign yet that he remains deeply concerned about the country's long-term fiscal deficit.

Speaking at the start of the lame-duck session of the U.S. Congress, and a day before a bipartisan meeting with senior leaders, Mr. Obama said the freeze would save $2 billion over the rest of this fiscal year and generate $28 billion in cumulative savings over the next five years.

Mindful of the politically fraught nature of the freeze, he added: “I did not reach this decision easily. This is not just a line item on a federal ledger. These are people's lives... They are patriots who love their country and often make many sacrifices to serve their country.”

Mr. Obama said the bipartisan deficit commission constituted earlier this year was to report back this week and, “Those of us who have been charged to lead will have to confront some very difficult decisions, cutting spending we do not need in order to invest in the things that we do.

A Treasury Department report earlier this year reportedly indicated that debt would top $13.6 trillion in 2010.

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