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Bipartisan commission weighing 3-year pay freeze

Nov. 10, 2010 - 05:18PM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
The Debt Commission's recommendations would reduce the national deficit by $4 trillion by 2020.
The Debt Commission's recommendations would reduce the national deficit by $4 trillion by 2020. (File photo / Agence France-Presse)

A bipartisan deficit reduction commission appointed by the White House is considering freezing federal salaries through fiscal 2014, according to a draft proposal released Wednesday.

The draft proposal from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, headed by former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., and Erskine Bowles, who was President Clinton's chief of staff, would reduce the deficit by an estimated $4 trillion by 2020, and cut the deficit to 2.2 percent of gross domestic product by 2015. The pay freeze would save $15.1 billion, the draft proposal said.

The draft also calls for cutting the federal work force by 200,000 full-time equivalent employees or 10 percent by 2020. The commission said this would save $13.2 billion.

Under that proposal, agencies would only be allowed to hire two new employees for every three who leave. The proposal said all agencies should have to meet those goals, but it gives the president leeway to exempt national security agencies as long as the overall reduction is met. This means the reductions, if enacted, would likely fall more heavily on agencies without national security missions.

Other proposals:

Consider folding the Small Business Administration into the Commerce Department, to save $1 billion annually in operating expenses.

Cut 250,000 non-defense contractors which the co-chairmen said would save $18.4 billion by 2015.

Cut $400 million from the federal travel budget annually.

Cut the federal vehicle by 20 percent, saving $300 million by 2015.

Consider eliminating locality pay for Foreign Service officers stationed overseas, to save $427 million in fiscal 2013.

Close outdated, Cold War-era consulates and consider canceling construction of some high-security facilities overseas that are not needed.

Save $1 billion by instituting other savings, such as having all photocopiers make double-sided copies by default and eliminating paper pay stubs.

It's far from certain which if any of the commission's proposals could be enacted. Fourteen of the commission's 18 members must agree on the final slate of proposals, which must be finalized by Dec. 1. Congress will then have to vote on the final proposal.

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