Oh, dear. President Obama is going to be writing the government a check every month for 5% of his salary as a show of unity with federal workers impacted by the Republican sequester. That’s $20,000 a year. If Republicans are so concerned about the deficit that they were willing to allow the sequester to kick in, surely they will step up to follow the President’s fiscal example.
CNN reported today:
Obama, whose $400,000 annual salary is set in law and can’t officially be changed, will write a check made out to the U.S. treasury every month beginning in April. Since the mandatory across-the-board spending cuts went into effect March 1, his payment for last month will be paid retroactively.
“The president has decided that to share in the sacrifice being made by public servants across the federal government that are affected by the sequester, he will contribute a portion of his salary back to the Treasury,” the official said.
According to the Constitution, the President’s salary can’t be changed during his/her term: “The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.”
But just in case anyone was wondering (like a few of the super outraged conservative sites), the Budget Control Act of 2011 contained an exemption that elected members of Congress (and the President, but that’s sort of redundant given the Constitution) won’t have their salary or pension reduced.
A check of John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, and Rand Paul’s websites reveals not a single statement or mention of the president’s decision to return 5% of his pay. Apparently, these Republicans believe that their talk of budgetary belt tightening applies to you, not them.
In February of this year, Republicans happily proposed reducing the federal workforce through attrition to avoid sequestration this year. They didn’t ask for cuts to federal contractors. They asked for cuts to employees who have already sacrificed $103 billion in the name of deficit reduction since 2011, according to Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA). They left for break after approving reduced funding for their committees, but not for themselves.
While Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) made pretty PR by authoring an amendment for a fund to which Congress could choose to donate 20% of their pay , USA Today points out that it was part of a non-binding vote to the budget resolution, and thus does not have the force of law.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter already volunteered their salaries before the President did. So far, two Democratic Senators have also risen to the challenge: Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) stepped up to the plate and will be returning a portion of his salary, ”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.” And Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-O) has also pledged to return a portion of her salary. Not a peep from a Republican yet.
Meanwhile, as the President shows solidarity with American workers, in the House, Eric Cantor (R-VA) is pushing a bill to gut rules governing overtime pay for the American workers.
It’s ironic that the people claiming to be so concerned about the deficit and so eager to cut pay for some people are unwilling thus far to step up to the plate and cut their own pay even by 1%. Tick tock Republicans. Put your money where your mouth is.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.