WASHINGTON President Barack Obama on Tuesday ordered bonuses be frozen for political appointees in the federal government, as the White House sought to show it was being careful with taxpayer dollars before the November 2 congressional elections.
"Like households and businesses across the country, the federal government is tightening its belt," Obama said in a memorandum released by the White House.
He also proposed a salary freeze for political appointees, the thousands of workers put into every corner of the federal government by each new administration, and urged Congress to enact this request into law.
"At a time when so many American families are struggling to make ends meet, I am committed to making sure the federal government is spending the taxpayers' money wisely and carefully, and cutting costs wherever possible," Obama said.
Polls show public support for Obama has slipped because of deep concern about the economy and high unemployment. His Democratic Party faces heavy losses in the elections and Republicans blame him for spending that they say will push the U.S. budget deficit to a record $1.47 trillion this year.
Obama told department heads throughout his administration to immediately halt cash awards, bonuses and similar discretionary payments to political appointed federal workers. The freeze will be in place until September 30, 2011, the end of the next fiscal year.
(Reporting by Alister Bull; Editing by Chris Wilson)