President Barack Obama announced on his first day in office Wednesday that he is freezing the pay of the about a hundred White House employees who make more than $100,000 a year. The freeze would hold salaries at their current levels. It is part of a presidential memorandum being issued Wednesday when Obama attends a swearing-in for staff at the White House. In a statement, Obama said "families are tightening their belts, and so should Washington."
Aides making above $100,00 include the high-profile jobs of White House chief of staff, national security adviser and press secretary. Other aides who work in relative anonymity also fit into that group, if Obama follows a structure similar to the one George W. Bush set up.
"They deserve a government that truly is of, and by, the American people," Obama said.
He also announced a change in policy that will require each federal agency and department to give full attention to Freedom of Information requests and said he expects members of his administration to be responsive to such pleas.
And Obama also disclosed what he called a "clean break" from existing rules spelling out when and under what circumstances administration officials could work on issues on which they lobbied governmental agencies before.
He said there would be a two-year, rather than a one-year, waiting period for government officials to be able to work on such issues and said they would "not be able to work on matters you lobbied on or White House agencies you lobbied during the last two years."
"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this administration," Obama said in a statement to reporters. He said the orders he was issuing Wednesday do not go as far as he would like, but that they do go a long way toward "marking a new era" in America.