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story.lead_photo.caption President Donald Trump speaks during a dinner for evangelical leaders in the State Dining Room of the White House, Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is canceling pay raises due in January for most civilian federal employees, he informed Congress on Thursday, citing budget constraints. But the workers still could see a slightly smaller boost in their pay under a proposal lawmakers are considering.

Trump said he was nixing a 2.1 percent across-the-board raise for most workers as well as separate locality pay increases averaging 25.7 percent.

"We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases," Trump said. The president last year signed a package of tax cuts that is forecast to add about $1.5 trillion to federal deficits over 10 years.

Trump cited the "significant" cost of employing federal workers as justification for denying the pay increases and called for federal worker pay to be based on performance and structured toward recruiting, retaining and rewarding "high-performing Federal employees and those with critical skill sets."

His announcement came as the country heads into the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Democrats immediately criticized the move, citing the tax cuts Trump signed into law last December. That law provided steep tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans, and more modest reductions for middle- and low-income individuals and families.

"Trump has delivered yet another slap in the face to American workers," said Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.

Under the law, the 2.1 percent raise takes effect automatically unless the president and Congress act to change it. Congress is currently debating a proposal for a slightly lower, 1.9 percent across-the-board raise to be included in a funding bill that would require Trump's signature to keep most government functions operating past September.

Unions representing the 2 million-member federal workforce urged Congress to pass the 1.9 percent pay raise.

"President Trump's plan to freeze wages for these patriotic workers next year ignores the fact that they are worse off today financially than they were at the start of the decade," said J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents some 700,000 federal workers.

"They have already endured years of little to no increases and their paychecks cannot stretch any further as education, health care costs, gas and other goods continue to get more expensive," added Tim Reardon, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union.

Cox said federal worker pay and benefits have been cut by more than $200 billion since 2011.

Congress has approved legislation to give military service members a 2.6 percent pay raise, the biggest in nine years, but funding for the pay raise has not yet been approved.

In July, the Trump administration sharply revised upward its deficit estimates compared to the estimates in the budget proposal it sent Congress in February. The worsening deficit reflects the impact of the $1.5 trillion, 10-year tax cut, as well as increased spending for the military and domestic programs that Congress approved earlier this year.

The administration's July budget update projected a deficit of $890 million for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, up from the February estimate of $873 billion. The $890 billion projection represents a 34 percent increase from the $666 billion in 2017.

For 2019, the administration is projecting the deficit will top $1 trillion and stay above that level for the next three years.

The only other period when the federal government ran deficits above $1 trillion was the four years from 2009 through 2012, when the government used tax cuts and increased spending to combat the 2008 fiscal crisis and the worst economic downturn since the 1930s.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who represents many federal workers, blamed what he said was Trump's mismanagement of federal government.

"His tax bill exploded the deficit, and now he is trying to balance the budget on the backs of federal workers," Connolly said.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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Archived Comments

  • Foghorn
    August 30, 2018 at 2:55 p.m.

    Oh my, this is not going to go over well, but I have to say I approve. I think it should extend across DoD/Intel as well. Next, convert them to 401K’s vs. pensions. That’ll trim the rolls toot sweet.

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    August 30, 2018 at 3:30 p.m.

    Considering in the last QTR of the last Admin was a E.O. hiring increase of Federal and State employees by 40% Im a little disappointed this is all thats happened.

    Cue the Fed and State employees/beneficiaries.

  • ReadWood
    August 30, 2018 at 4:37 p.m.

    If the budgetary constraints are that terrible, why did the idiot push to cut taxes for himself and all the other millionaires/billionaires? He is only interested in serving himself. Period.
    Maybe all the trumpsters will finally get a clue...?

  • PopMom
    August 30, 2018 at 5:42 p.m.

    Why don't we cap his personal travel costs? Nevermind. He won't be there that much longer.

  • Foghorn
    August 30, 2018 at 5:52 p.m.

    So Trump wants to simultaneously take credit for a ‘booming’ economy while citing salary freezes ‘in light of our nation’s fiscal situation.’ Just like he protects steel producers while screwing farmers and ensuring auto production moves abroad. Unless you are the 1%, this guy doesn’t support you. Whether you live or die depends on him throwing a dart at some theoretical dartboard without even looking.

  • Retirednwsman
    August 30, 2018 at 5:58 p.m.

    The Trumpster didn’t having any trouble giving the “big folks” a big tax cut and the rest of us, peanuts. Going to add over a trillion dollars to the debt; where’s the fiscal restraint in that. AND, the Trump Gong Show Continues.

  • RBear
    August 30, 2018 at 6:02 p.m.

    I thought these cuts were going to pay for themselves with the AMAZING economic boost they would give. The funny part is seeing the Trump freaks scrambling to defend these idiotic moves with utterly stupid statements about the economy. My favorite is abb's claim the next quarter's GDP growth will be greater than 4%. If she holds true to her end of the bet, she'll be off this site for a month. Yes, you can thank me later.

  • RobertBolt
    August 30, 2018 at 6:40 p.m.

    Mexico is going to pay for the tax cuts.

  • Foghorn
    August 30, 2018 at 6:44 p.m.

    RB - We haven’t heard much from abb since she showed her @ss last week with multiple demented posts denigrating John McCain. I’ve gotten a tetanus shot in the meantime knowing that, just like locusts, she’ll likely emerge at some point.

  • BoudinMan
    August 30, 2018 at 6:53 p.m.

    This is how today's repug party operates. Everything for the Koch Bros. and the donor class, and whatever crumbs fall on the floor, the common folk can have. Yet, the middle class keeps voting for these con artists. I've never seen a group of people so easily conned to continue voting against their own self interests.

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