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Pioneer Editorial: Solving the deficit calls for sacrifice

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opinion Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

While many see President Barack Obama's proposal Monday to freeze federal employee pay for two years as nothing more than a symbolic gesture, it starts the ball rolling in finding ways to dig ourselves out of the deep federal deficit hole of nearly $14 trillion.

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The two-year pay freeze would save$28 billion over five years -- not a lot of money considering the size of the federal budget, but more than just a symbolic gesture.

"I did not reach this decision easily." The president said, adding that the pay freeze would not apply to the military.. "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."

But these are times upon which all of us are called upon to sacrifice. Many private sector employees have gone without raises during the Great Recession, while the federal payroll has beren allowed to increase. The only people sacrificing are the elderly, as they enter into their second year of Social Security pay freezes.

The proposal should also show to incoming Republican congressional leaders that Democrat Obama is willing to meet the conservatives halfway. It should lead to spirited but productive negotiations over a number of issues important to this nation.

The proposal also shows how serious we must get to solving the federal deficit problem, which has grown way out of control and nothing short of drastic measures can rein it in.

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