In an altruistic move unparallelled on the right side of the aisle, President Barack Obama has joined key congressional Democrats in pledging to return 5 percent ($20,000) of his annual $400,000 salary to the U.S. Treasury to show solidarity with furloughed federal workers, according to a senior White House official.
Due to sequestration, the White House has sent about 500 furlough notices to Executive Office staff:
“The White House is one of eleven components of the Executive Office of the President which is indeed, as we have said, subject to the sequester,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said. “Within the Executive Office of the President, several offices have sent furlough notices to their staff, including to 480 employees of the Office of Management and Budget.”
According to the United States Constitution, the salary of the POTUS can not officially be reduced or increased. So, beginning in April, President Obama will write a monthly check to the treasury for $1,667 . According to CNN, since the sequestration induced spending cuts that ushered in the furlough began March 1, last month’s payment will be made retroactively.
Obama follows the lead of newly confirmed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who announced that he would voluntarily return 14 days of his $199,700 annual salary to show solidarity with his department. Over the next 14 weeks, approximately 700,000 Defense department civilians will have to take up to one unpaid day off each week. Weeks prior to Hagel’s announcement, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter confirmed that he would be giving back a portion of his salary as well.
Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) announced that they will also be standing in solidarity with furloughed workers:
“We need to be making responsible cuts wherever we can and there is no reason that members of Congress shouldn’t feel the pinch like everyone else,” said Begich.
To date, not one single Republican has announced that they will stand in solidarity with furloughed workers (here’s looking at you budget guru Paul Ryan and John “Let Them Eat Cake” Boehner). Being the self-professed staunch adherers to the constitution that they are, it makes perfect sense that they wouldn’t voluntarily do something not explicitly stated by the nation’s founding fathers.
As undoubtedly more Democrats give back portions of their salaries, it’s going to be more and more difficult for Republicans to profess genuine concern for the budget when they are only willing to balance it on the backs of the most vulnerable among us.