President Obama wants you to know he feels your pain.
The president is giving 5% of his 2013 salary back to the Treasury Department in support of federal workers who will see their wages reduced because of the sequester. The move will be applied retroactively to March 1, the day the $85 billion of sequester budget cuts first took effect.
The president’s base salary is $400,000 per-year, so the 5% donation should come out to $20,000. Keep in mind that President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama grossed $789,674 of income for 2012, so the donation is largely symbolic. Even so, the White House wants to send the message that it is not exempt from the affects of the sequester.
An administration official spoke on the President’s salary donation today.
"The salary for the president, as with members of Congress, is set by law and cannot be changed. However, 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.
Other members of President Obama’s cabinet have volunteered to donate portions of their salaries as well. Chuck Hagel and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton carter have taken similar measures, as have Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Deputy Secretary Maurice Jones. There has been no word yet on whether Vice President Biden will forego some of his $230,700 annual salary.
A few members of Congress are getting in on the sequester salary donations as well. Senators Claire McCaskill (D- Missouri) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) have said they will follow in the president’s steps.
“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," Begich said.
Congress will return from a two week spring recess next week. Upon returning, representatives will begin deciding which spending measures will be cut under the mandates of the sequester. Spending must be down at least 11% from 2012 budget levels.
"I hope my colleagues come back from the holidays ready to get to work,” Begich said.